on fatah

so just as i left beit lahem the city was preparing for a major fatah conference. the first signs of this were all of the black fatah suvs driving around the city like maniacs. i drove by ma’an news on my way home one night and a ton of them were out front. it turns out that mohammad dahlan was inside giving an interview. sousan hammad’s article in electronic intifada on the conference identified some of the main struggles within the party:

Many of Fatah’s young and old remained cynical about the possibility of overcoming the organization’s infighting, saying they’d heard it all before. Apparently the one true believer was Jibril Rajoub, a former senior Fatah security official and former head of one of the many PA security forces, who is seen as a possible successor to Abbas. Rajoub told the horde of journalists who stuck microphones in his face that the the conference was “a rebirth” that would revitalize Fatah.

But one just had to go outside to see the segregation among the delegates. The old and exiled, wearing khaki-colored uniforms reminiscent of their revolutionary days, gathered together to smoke cigarettes and drink Nescafe, while expressing gratitude to be back in Palestine for the one-week permit that was allowed them by Israel. Then there were the young: former fighters, such as Zakariya Zubeidi, who once led the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, but signed a so-called amnesty deal with Israel. He exuded optimism to the press on the urgency of pacification with Israel.

As one Fatah official, who wished to remain anonymous, said, “There are two planes in this movement: one plane of Dahlanists [Mohammed Dahlan and his cohorts] — those who spout peace and pragmatism, and another plane of resistance — those who want to keep armed struggle alive. But there is so much corruption that is occurring from those who hold high positions that I don’t think we can come together … it’s between them and us.”

No matter that the West Bank and Gaza are becoming increasingly dependent on Western aid organizations to develop their own cities and villages, Abbas insisted on showing the exiled delegates the PA’s “success.” Despite Palestine’s statelessness, Abbas mentioned how he has been improving security for the state. Upon hearing this, Mohamed Edwan (Head Press Officer to the PA who happened to sit beside me) shook his head and said, “This is a police state, not a state of security.”

It is already difficult to see the purpose of such ceremonies, but when Abbas’ very own communicator dismisses what he says as a falsehood, how can we expect Fatah’s central committee, political agenda and electoral decision-making bodies to act in unison with party members, much less the political leaders of other factions, or even Israel? These are the bonfires Fatah faces at the conference.

al jazeera’s ayman mohyeldin reported on other complications and divisions between fatah and hamas in the shadow of the conference:

saed bannoura reported for imemc that at the conference mahmoud abbas asserted palestinians’ right to resistance:

Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, stated on Tuesday evening that the Palestinian Authority in committed to the peace process based on the principles of international legitimacy and justice, but added that the Palestinians reserve their right to legitimate resistance guaranteed by the international law.

but where is that resistance, especially from fatah? leading up to the conference and over the past month and a half al jazeera ran a documentary entitled plo: the history of a revolution. it’s well worth watching for its archival footage and historical perspective showing what happens when resistance movements opt out of resistance in order for power and corruption.

groundhog day in palestine

it has been difficult for me to keep up with news and such since i’ve been in amrika. between taking care of my grandma and packing more stuff of my own to ship and running around getting stuff for friends i have been really wiped out. i love spending time with my grandma, but it is exhausting. it has also been interesting getting to know her nurse, a single mother of two from el salvador. she is one of so many refugees who come to the united states because of the horrific war crimes committed by the u.s. in her country of origin. but there are members of her family who stayed behind and so they maintain a farm filled with wholesome, healthy food the likes of which is rare here. intermittently, i’ve scanned the headlines back in palestine. but i haven’t had much time to really read them until today. in some ways sometimes i wonder: what is the point? following the news in palestine is somewhat like groundhog day. it’s like reliving the same nightmare over and over again every single day. and confronting the news about palestine and the u.s. role in the ongoing colonization and ethnic cleansing there reminds me of yet another reason of why i hate my country. i’m going to respond to some of the main events that have been going on over the past couple of weeks, but i’ll be breaking down the posts by place or theme–not because they are unconnected (i.e., gaza, the west bank, or 1948 palestine), but because there is too much to cover in one post.

what continues unabated in palestine is the kidnapping of palestinians as political prisoners in zionist terrorist colonists’ nightly invasions, the siege on gaza, the selling of palestinian land in 1948 palestine, and of course the ongoing ethnic cleansing and annexation of palestinian land and homes everywhere and anywhere. supposedly the u.s. has been “pressuring” the zionist entity, but in reality i don’t see it happening. sans sanctions it will never happen. but the story of the ethnic cleansing of sheikh jarrah in al quds is the story that has made the headlines even in amrika. on sunday, august 2nd palestinian families were forcibly removed from homes they have owned since 1956 as sherine tadros reported on al jazeera:

notice in the above video tadros tells us that the zionist terrorist colonists have decided that the neighborhood of sheikh jarrah is now “israel.” of course, this is the same thing they have done for 61+ years. this is merely the latest example of it. according to the bbc the zionist terrorist colonist supreme court sanctioned this action of land theft:

Israel’s Supreme Court ordered the eviction, following a complex 37-year legal battle during which Israeli courts upheld a claim that the land is Jewish-owned. Jewish groups want to build homes for settlers in the area.

and, of course, its prime minister supports land theft and colonization as the bbc continues:

“Our sovereignty over it is unquestionable,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last month.

“We cannot accept the idea that Jews will not have the right to live and buy [homes] anywhere in Jerusalem.”

The BBC’s Tim Franks in Jerusalem says the houses are in what is probably the most contested city on earth and the diplomatic ripples from the evictions will spread.

The UN said the 53 people evicted comprised nine families belonging to the Hanoun and al-Ghawi extended families.

The legal battle over the site has been complex.

Jordan, which occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem after the creation of Israel in 1948, and the UN housed several Palestinian families on the plot of land.

But Israeli courts have since upheld a Jewish association’s claim that the site was owned by Jews before that, and their demand for rent that the Palestinian families have refused to pay.

Palestinian and left-wing Israeli organisations say Palestinians and Israeli-Arabs cannot, in the same way, make effective ownership claims to land dating back to before 1948 through the Israeli court system.

There are an estimated 250,000 Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and 200,000 Jews.

i find the supreme court’s usage of the term “owned” interesting. if land ownership is the thing that the court is upholding–colonial as the court is–then why not see if the court honors all land ownership documents. of course, i am referring to real land ownership documents, not those manufactured by jewish zionist colonists who terrorize palestinians out of their beds and homes. for example, ilene prusher’s article about this latest ethnic cleansing episode reveals that the hanoun family is from haifa:

In 1956, 28 Palestinian families who were refugees from Israel after 1948 were resettled in Sheikh Jarrah as part of an UN project to assist people made homeless in the war. The Hanoun family, who say they are originally from Haifa, was one of the recipients – and Maher Hanoun, Nadia’s husband, was born in the house.

what would be truly amazing if the hanoun family could move their struggle over their rights to their land and house to one that says: okay, your colonial court says that land ownership and title deeds are what counts as entitlement to land and homes. therefore, here is my title deed and key to my house in haifa. i want it back now. fighting in these terms could lead to a precedent that would allow all palestinians to return to their land and homes because, of course, they are the legal rightful owners. imagining such a scenario is, of course, absurd as it would never happen. because zionist terrorist colonist courts care only about jews (albeit white jews more than brown jews). and short of a mass conversion of palestinians to judaism i don’t think that they will be granted the same status in those courts. and so the hanoun and al ghawi families are sleeping on the street. homeless again. refugees again. here is jacky rowland’s report on al jazeera post-house theft:

there was also a longer report, with more context, on the real news:

maher hanoun envisioned that zionist terrorist colonists would come to his aid and thus wrote a public letter to them inviting them to join in his fight to take his home back. and maybe a few will show up. but who among them will fight to destroy the so-called jewish state and make sure the land goes back to its rightful owners so that palestinian refugees may finally return to their homes? gideon levy, for instance, recognizes the court decision and wonders about his own house on stolen land, though, of course, he certainly is not ready to give it back to its rightful owner:

We should perhaps thank the court for its scandalous ruling, which not only sparked a justifiable international wave of protest against Israel, but also revealed its true face. “There are judges in Jerusalem,” as Menachem Begin said, and they have made it official: apartheid. Ownership rights are for Jews alone.

The distance between Sheikh Jarrah and Sheikh Munis has been shortened in one fell swoop. Those who contend that Jews must be given back their property cannot in the same breath deny the Palestinians’ property rights because of their national origin. It’s true that a system of strict laws and regulations denies the Palestinians what it allows the Jews, but all reasonable Israelis must now ask themselves if this is the system of justice and the law of the “Jewish” state they want to live in.

It is impossible to ignore the injustices of 1948 while hundreds of thousands of refugees rot in the camps. No agreement will hold water without a solution to their plight, which is more feasible than Israel’s strident scaremongers suggest. But rulings like the current one make it harder to distinguish clearly between Sheikh Jarrah and Sheikh Munis, between the conquest of 1948 and the conquests of 1967. My house stands on land stolen by force, and it is the obligation of Israel and the world to redress the injustice without creating injustice and new dislocation. My house stands on land that was stolen, but the whole world has recognized the Jews’ right to establish their state there. At the same time, no country in the world has recognized Israel’s right to conquer Sheikh Jarrah as well.

In my morning musings on the way to the pool, I sometimes think about the land’s original owners. I long for the day when Israel takes moral and material responsibility for the injustice done to them. Now, because of the court ruling, my right to continue to swim here may also be in doubt.

and this is the problem i have with normalization in any context. unless those you are normalizing with have committed themselves to the destruction of the jewish state, including relinquishing of land that is stolen (i.e., all of historic palestine), what is the point. in the end they want to keep what they stole. and the americans, who also, of course, live on stolen land support land theft and colonization in palestine, but like to use language that feigns concern:

The United States and the European Union hit out Monday at Israel for evicting Palestinian families from east Jerusalem, warning that such moves endangered the Middle East peace process.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton led the international condemnation, labelling the evictions “deeply regrettable” and “provocative” and accusing Israel of failing to live up to its international obligations under existing peace initiatives.

“I have said before that the eviction of families and demolition of homes in east Jerusalem is not in keeping with Israeli obligations,” Clinton told reporters at a Washington press conference alongside Jordanian counterpart Nasser Judeh.

“And I urge the government of Israel and municipal officials to refrain from such provocative actions.”

and it gets worse when the u.s. comes in to the picture. for instance former presidential candidate mike huckabee shared his views on the rights of indigenous palestinians as reported in imemc:

Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported that former Arkansas governor, Mike Hukabee, who is visiting Israel in support of illegal Israeli settlements and illegal annexation of Palestinian lands, stated that establishing a Palestinian State in what he described as the “Middle of Jewish Homeland” is unrealistic.

Hukabee is conducting a three-day tour in Israel and met with dozens of fundamental settler leaders and members of Knesset.

He arrived in Israel on Sunday and visited illegal settlements in East Jerusalem on Monday. He also visited the Maaleh Adumin illegal settlement bloc.

in any case, there is a petition you can sign to support palestinian families in al quds at the stand up for jerusalem website. there are also a number of reports, photographs, and videos there you can look through to learn more about ethnic cleansing in palestine.

but any notion that anything will change from the colonists in charge–the zionists or the americans–was made clear by the u.s. state department:

State Department spokesperson Robert Wood has stated that it’s much too early for the U.S. to put economic pressure on Israel to cooperate with the ban on settlement construction.

He has also stated that the focus now was on dialogue, and working toward a peaceful resolution. In addition, the new Israeli ambassador to the U.S. has denied claims of existing tension between the two nations over discussions on settlement issues. The U.S. has demanded that Israel stop the building of settlements and does not distinguish East Jerusalem from the West Bank, condemning all settlement activity there. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has continued his settlement campaign, ignoring the calls of the U.S., the European Union, and Russia to halt settlement development.

sanctions are the only way to exert pressure on the zionist terrorist colonists to stop stealing land and forcing more palestinians to become refugees multiple times over. it should happen with government money, but it should also happen in the form of cracking down on american non profits that fund these colonies and land confiscation as reported recently in ha’aretz (thanks tam tam):

American Friends of Ateret Cohanim, a nonprofit organization that sends millions of shekels worth of donations to Israel every year for clearly political purposes, such as buying Arab properties in East Jerusalem, is registered in the United States as an organization that funds educational institutes in Israel.

The U.S. tax code enables nonprofits to receive tax-exempt status if they engage in educational, charitable, religious or scientific activity. However, such organizations are forbidden to engage in any political activity. The latter is broadly defined as any action, even the promotion of certain ideas, that could have a political impact.

Financing land purchases in East Jerusalem would, therefore, seem to violate the organization’s tax-exempt status.

Daniel Luria, chief fund-raiser for Ateret Cohanim in Israel, told Haaretz Sunday that the American organization’s registration as an educational entity stemmed from tax considerations.

“We are an umbrella organization that engages in redeeming land,” he said. “Our [fund-raising] activity in New York goes solely toward land redemption.”

Although Ateret Cohanim also operates a yeshiva, Ateret Yerushalayim, in the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City, fund-raising for the yeshiva is handled by a different organization: American Friends of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim.”

American Friends of Ateret Cohanim was founded in New York in 1987. Like all tax-exempt organizations, it must file detailed annual returns with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. An examination of them reveals that the organization describes its “primary exempt purpose” as: “[to] provide funding for higher educational institutes in Israel.”

“That’s because of the tax issue,” Luria said, explaining that due to American law, the American Friends organization “has to be connected in some fashion with educational matters.”

He also estimated that 60 percent of Ateret Cohanim’s money is raised in the U.S.

The Friends organization’s most recent return, filed in 2008 for fiscal 2007, shows that it raised $2.1 million in donations that year. Of this, $1.6 million was transferred to Ateret Cohanim in Israel.

The remainder was used to cover administrative overhead, including fund-raising expenses and an $80,000 salary for Shoshana Hikind, the American organization’s vice president and de facto director, whose husband Dov is a New York state assemblyman and well-known supporter of the Israeli right.

The organization also raised substantial sums in previous years: $1.3 million in 2006, $900,000 in 2005 and about $2 million in 2004.

By comparison, American Friends of Yeshivat Ateret Yerushalayim raised only $189,000 in 2007.

In its IRS returns, American Friends of Ateret Cohanim said its purpose is to “promote,” “publicize” and “raise funds for” Ateret Cohanim institutions in Israel. These institutions, it continued, “encourage and promote study and observance of Jewish religious traditions and culture.”

one of the places ateret cohanim is actively working to steal homes and land is in the al bustan neighborhood of al quds, just a couple of miles from sheikh jarrah who received new eviction and house demolition orders a few days after the al ghawi and hanoun families became refugees again:

Eight Palestinians were injured from attacks by Israeli forces who were delivering house demolition orders in the Al-Bustan neighborhood in East Jerusalem on Wednesday.

The Israeli police had come to the area to hand out five new demolition orders, on top of the 90 already existing demolition orders.

Residents that wanted to confront the Israeli police were dispersed with the use of tear gas.The police also seized the ID card of a member of the Al-Bustan Committee, a popular organization that aims to peacefully oppose the house demolitions in the area.

and more annexation and land theft is happening in beit iksa:

The Israeli Authorities annexed the Palestinian village of Beit Iksa by placing it on the map west of the Annexation Wall, and considered it part of Jerusalem. The decision means that the village would be isolated from the West Bank.

The decision comes in contradiction with a decision issued by the Israeli government in 2006 in which it decided not to annex the village.

Implementing the decision means that some 3000 Palestinians would be allowed to enter Israel without any permits, but would also be isolated from the West Bank.

and if you are wondering who is controlling all of this colony expansion and land theft, look no further than the zionist entity’s regime as leigh baldwin reported for afp:

Israel has handed control over much of a key Palestinian area in annexed east Jerusalem to hardline settler groups in a creeping takeover kept away from public scrutiny, a report by an activist group said on Thursday.

Government bodies have transferred both private Palestinian property and national parks in the Silwan neighbourhood outside the walls of the Old City to the settler organisation Elad, said Ir Amim, a non-profit group specialising in Jerusalem issues.

“It was done in the dark, in flagrant violation of the rules of good government and in some cases in violation of the law, without open and official decisions by the government or Knesset and without public discussion, inquiry or scrutiny,” said the report entitled “Shady Dealings in Silwan.”

Elad is dedicated to expanding Jewish ownership in Arab areas of east Jerusalem, which Israel captured from Jordan in 1967 and annexed in a move not recognised by the international community.

In Silwan, Elad has acted as an arm of the government for the past 20 years to gain control over a quarter of the land along its main thoroughfare, Wadi Hilweh or City of David.

“Silwan is a keystone to a sweeping and systematic process whose aim is to gain control of the Palestinian territories that surround the Old City, to cut the Old City off from the urban fabric of east Jerusalem and to connect it to Jewish settlement blocs” in the northeast, it said.

and it is not just in al quds. land is being stolen from palestinians near nablus, too:

Dozens of armed extremist Israeli settlers, enjoying Israeli army protection, illegally annexed on Friday morning 40 Dunams of Palestinian lands south of Nablus, in the northern part of the West Bank.

Dr. Ghassan Douglas, in charge of settlements file in the northern part of the West Bank said that dozens of settlers, driving vehicles carrying iron and wires, took over Palestinian lands and started fencing them.

Israeli soldiers stationed at the nearby Huwwara military roadblock, did not interfere while the settlers illegally annexed the Palestinian orchards and installed the fence around them.

and it is still continuing, this time in ya’abd–this is from today’s imemc:

The Israeli military handed over on Tuesday a military order confiscating 28 Acres of farm lands near Ya’abd village in northern west Bank.

Waled Abadi, the Mayer of Ya’abd, tolled IEMMC that the order was delivered to him today by the military. He added that all the land are owned by farmers from the village and located close to the Shakid Israeli settlement nearby. Abadi added that the military order says that the land will be used by the military for security purposes but the order is not clear whether the military will used or the settlers.
category

supposedly there is now american “pressure,” though of course not sanctions, which will put a six month freeze on colony expansion, but i suspect this will last about a day:

In a bid to gain US support for its large-scale takeover of Palestinian land in the West Bank, the Israeli government says that it will put a temporary hold on new settlement construction.

The “moratorium” will be in effect for the next six months, in which time the Israeli Prime Minister says he hopes to gain international support for Israel’s takeover of East Jerusalem and parts of the Palestinian territory known as the West Bank.

High-level officials in the administration of Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu confirmed that the Israeli government will engage in a “waiting” period in order to convince the US that Israel is committed to peace. Netanyahu left for Europe on Monday, and he is expected to meet with the US Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, while he is there. Mitchell has called for a one-year freeze on settlement construction, but Israeli officials say they are hoping the six-month “moratorium” will be sufficient.

if you watch this report from al jazeera by mike hanna you can get an idea of precisely why these colonies will continue to expand no matter what the u.s. says. hanna is reporting from an outpost colony, adam, near qalandia, although there are hundreds more like it all over the west bank:

to get an idea of what the average zionist terrorist colonist on the stolen palestinian street thinks watch this video by antony lowenstein and joseph dana:

notice all of the american accents in that video above. this is just one of the many marks of colonialism: these people are not from there. they do not belong there. they must leave.

and it’s not just because of the new colonialism. this colonialism and land theft has been going on for 122+ years. just like maher hanoun originally hails from haifa and has a right to return there, so too is the story for 7.2 million palestinian refugees who are denied the right to their land and homes while the zionist jews colonizing the land can buy and sell the stolen property. there was a great story in the san francisco chronicle a few weeks ago by timothy crawley that makes these connections between the current and ongoing nakba:

Walk down what was formerly Al-Borj Street in Haifa, Israel, and you might catch sight of an old Jerusalem-stone building with arched doorways and windows cemented-over and a large Re/Max (an international real estate franchise) banner draped across the front. The house belongs to the Kanafani family, most of whom are living in exile in Lebanon but some of whom are now living as far away from home as San Francisco.

Defined as “absentee property” under Israeli law, the house is one of thousands of properties owned by Palestinian refugees who were forced from their lands by Jewish militias or fled during the war of 1948, in what would be remembered as the Palestinian “Nakba” – the Catastrophe. The Israeli Absentee Property Law of 1950 established the Custodian of Absentee Property to safeguard these homes until a resolution would be reached regarding the right of Palestinian refugees to return.

For-sale signs have now appeared on dozens of these buildings across the state, and many have already been sold to private owners, frustrating the refugees’ legal right to recover their homes. A grave breach of international law, Israel’s sales of Palestinian homes is severing the refugees’ connection to the land – the linchpin for negotiations in their right of return to their homeland.

For displaced Palestinians, however, this phase of the Nakba is not limited to these illegal land sales by Israel. Eleven new unlawful settler outposts were established last week in the West Bank, undermining Israeli credibility in their discussions with the United States to freeze settlement expansion. Furthermore, a complete settlement freeze is unlikely as Israeli leaders claim that some construction is too far along to be halted, entitling the settlers to further entrench themselves upon Palestinian property.

Nor is the continuing Nakba limited to those living in the occupied Palestinian territories or refugees in exile abroad unable to return home. Internally displaced Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the Negev Desert are building shacks from scrap metal adjacent to their previous homes that were demolished by Israeli bulldozers. Demolition orders have been issued by the state for entire villages to make room for new Jewish towns.

The evacuation of the villages and the demolition of Bedouin homes represent the next step in the historical process of forcible displacement of Palestinian Arabs in favor of Jewish residents.

The Kanafani family loses a home in Haifa; lands in the West Bank including East Jerusalem are further colonized; and Bedouin citizens of Israel are displaced yet again. The Nakba did not just happen in 1948. It is continuing for thousands of Palestinians who are systematically denied their basic rights to property, housing, employment – and their right to live at peace in their own homes.

Peace will remain elusive so long as Israel’s approach to Palestinian refugees is to erase them from history; when Palestinian property in the West Bank continues to be expropriated and developed for Israel; or when Palestinian families must be uprooted and their homes demolished because they are not Jews. The pressure of the Obama administration on the Israeli government must not wane. Beyond the call to freeze all settlement activity, President Obama should insist on equal rights for Palestinians, and oppose discriminatory Israeli policies that only prolong the Nakba.

for some legal background on this stephen lendman’s article in dissident voices offers an overview of the so-called “legal” maneuvering that the zionist terrorist colonist entity does in order to make “legal” what would otherwise be considered theft in any other context. this decades long struggle has recently been addressed in the guardian by philosopher slavoj žižek who illustrates how this recent colonization connects to the one since 1948:

In the last months of 2008, when the attacks of illegal West Bank settlers on Palestinian farmers became a regular daily occurrence, the state of Israel tried to contain these excesses (the supreme court ordered the evacuation of some settlements) but, as many observers have noted, such measures are half-hearted, countered by the long-term politics of Israel, which violates the international treaties it has signed. The response of the illegal settlers to the Israeli authorities is “We are doing the same thing as you, just more openly, so what right do you have to condemn us?” And the state’s reply is basically “Be patient, and don’t rush too much. We are doing what you want, just in a more moderate and acceptable way.”

The same story has been repeated since 1949: Israel accepts the peace conditions proposed by the international community, counting on the fact that the peace plan will not work. The illegal settlers sometimes sound like Brunhilde from the last act of Wagner’s Walküre – reproaching Wotan and saying that, by counteracting his explicit order and protecting Siegmund, she was only realising Wotan’s own true desire, which he was forced to renounce under external pressure. In the same way the settlers know they are realising their own state’s true desire.

While condemning the violent excesses of “illegal” settlements, the state of Israel promotes new “legal” building on the West Bank, and continues to strangle the Palestinian economy. A look at the changing map of East Jerusalem, where the Palestinians are gradually encircled and their living area sliced, tells it all. The condemnation of anti-Palestinian violence not carried out by the state blurs the true problem of state violence; the condemnation of illegal settlements blurs the illegality of the legal ones.

Therein resides the two-facedness of the much-praised non-biased “honesty” of the Israeli supreme court: by occasionally passing judgment in favour of the dispossessed Palestinians, proclaiming their eviction illegal, it guarantees the legality of the remaining majority of cases.

Taking all this into account in no way implies sympathy for inexcusable terrorist acts. On the contrary, it provides the only ground from which one can condemn the terrorist attacks without hypocrisy.

a recent bbc report also addresses the issues that palestinians in 1948 palestine face with respect to their demolished homes and the restrictions they are faced with living in a state where only jews have rights. here is the first chunk of the report:

Sami Salameh has taken me to what used to be his home before the Israeli authorities flattened it.

Metal rods and slices of skirting board are all that’s left, among an expanse of sun-scorched wild grass.

He has brought along some photographs and kicks the earth as he shows them to me. The wiry 65-year-old man is angry and emotional.

“When the house collapsed so did my dreams,” he says.

He insists this plot of earth belonged to his family dating back to Ottoman times. But Israel has claimed it as state land. He is not allowed to build here now.

Mr Salameh’s new home is in the Arab town of Majdal Krum, in northern Israel. It’s illegally built, as is the whole neighbourhood.

His family of 14 lives in three rooms. The sewage system is poor.

Mr Salameh’s wife, Ashi, tells me the atmosphere in the house is listless and depressed.

He blames their birthright – living as Arabs in the Jewish state of Israel, he says.

“I lost everything when they demolished my house. If I had equal rights, I wouldn’t be in this mess. Jewish communities get building permits easily. They have electricity, water, sewage, street lights and parks. How come they live like that and we don’t?”

Just outside Mr Salameh’s home, a group of boys plays football in the street. Their identity, like his, is complex.

They are Israeli but also Arab. Their families stayed put in Israel after its war of independence 60 years ago.

Israel’s Basic Law says all its citizens are equal, but Israeli Arabs say some Israelis are more equal than others.

Neighbouring the town is the leafy, affluent, self-proclaimed Zionist village of Manof.

It is one of the growing predominantly Jewish communities encouraged in the north by Israeli governments since the late 1970s.

and the always brilliant jonathan cook’s recent article in electronic intifada addresses yet other cases of palestinian refugees’ land being sold out from under them because they have no rights, no access to their land:

Amin Muhammad Ali, a 74-year-old refugee from a destroyed Palestinian village in northern Israel, says he only feels truly at peace when he stands among his ancestors’ graves.

The cemetery, surrounded on all sides by Jewish homes and farms, is a small time capsule, transporting Muhammad Ali — known to everyone as Abu Arab — back to the days when this place was known by an Arabic name, Saffuriya, rather than its current Hebrew name, Tzipori.

Unlike most of the Palestinian refugees forced outside Israel’s borders by the 1948 war that led to the creation of the Jewish state, Abu Arab and his family fled nearby, to a neighborhood of Nazareth.

Refused the right to return to his childhood home, which was razed along with the rest of Saffuriya, he watched as the fields once owned by his parents were slowly taken over by Jewish immigrants, mostly from eastern Europe. Today only Saffuriya’s cemetery remains untouched.

Despite the loss of their village, the 4,500 refugees from Saffuriya and their descendants have clung to one hope: that the Jewish newcomers could not buy their land, only lease it temporarily from the state.

According to international law, Israel holds the property of more than four million Palestinian refugees in custodianship, until a final peace deal determines whether some or all of them will be allowed back to their 400-plus destroyed Palestinian villages or are compensated for their loss.

But last week, in a violation of international law and the refugees’ property rights that went unnoticed both inside Israel and abroad, Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, forced through a revolutionary land reform.

The new law begins a process of creeping privatization of much of Israel’s developed land, including refugee property, said Oren Yiftachel, a geographer at Ben Gurion University in Beersheva.

Netanyahu and the bill’s supporters argue that the law will cut out a whole level of state bureaucracy, make land transactions simpler and more efficient and cut house prices.

In practice, it will mean that the 200 Jewish families of Tzipori will be able to buy their homes, including a new cluster of bungalows that is being completed on land next to the cemetery that belonged to Abu Arab’s parents.

The privatization of Tzipori’s refugee land will remove it from the control of an official known as the Custodian of Absentee Property, who is supposed to safeguard it for the refugees.

“Now the refugees will no longer have a single address — Israel — for our claims,” said Abu Arab. “We will have to make our case individually against many hundreds of thousands of private homeowners.”

He added: “Israel is like a thief who wants to hide his loot. Instead of putting the stolen goods in one box, he moves it to 700 different boxes so it cannot be found.”

Netanyahu was given a rough ride by Israeli legislators over the reform, though concern about the refugees’ rights was not among the reasons for their protests.

Last month, he had to pull the bill at the last minute as its defeat threatened to bring down the government. He forced it through on a second attempt last week but only after he had warned his coalition partners that they would be dismissed if they voted against it.

A broad coalition of opposition had formed to what was seen as a reversal of a central tenet of Zionism: that the territory Israel acquired in 1948 exists for the benefit not of Israelis but of Jews around the world.

In that spirit, Israel’s founders nationalized not only the refugees’ property but also vast swathes of land they confiscated from the remaining Palestinian minority who gained citizenship and now comprise a fifth of the population. By the 1970s, 93 percent of Israel’s territory was in the hands of the state.

The disquiet provoked by Netanyahu’s privatization came from a variety of sources: the religious right believes the law contravenes a Biblical injunction not to sell land promised by God; environmentalists are concerned that developers will tear apart the Israeli countryside; and Zionists publicly fear that oil-rich sheikhs from the Gulf will buy up the country.

Arguments from the Palestinian minority’s leaders against the reform, meanwhile, were ignored — until Hizballah’s leader, Hassan Nasrallah, added his voice at the weekend. In a statement, he warned that the law “validates and perpetuates the crime of land and property theft from the Palestinian refugees of the 1948 Nakba.”

Suhad Bishara, a lawyer from the Adalah legal center for Israel’s Palestinian minority, said the law had been carefully drafted to ensure that foreigners, including wealthy sheikhs, cannot buy land inside Israel.

“Only Israeli citizens and anyone who can come to Israel under the Law of Return — that is, any Jew — can buy the lands on offer, so no ‘foreigner’ will be eligible.”

Another provision in the law means that even internal refugees like Abu Arab, who has Israeli citizenship, will be prevented from buying back land that rightfully belongs to them, Bishara said.

“As is the case now in terms of leasing land,” she explained, “admissibility to buy land in rural communities like Tzipori will be determined by a selection committee whose job it will be to frustrate applications from Arab citizens.”

Supporters of the law have still had to allay the Jewish opposition’s concerns. Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed that only a tiny proportion of Israeli territory — about four percent — is up for privatization.

But, according to Yiftachel, who lobbied against the reform, that means about half of Israel’s developed land will be available for purchase over the next few years. And he suspects privatization will not stop there.

“Once this red line has been crossed, there is nothing to stop the government passing another law next year approving the privatization of the rest of the developed areas,” he said.

Bishara said among the first refugee properties that would be put on the market were those in Israel’s cities, such as Jaffa, Acre, Tiberias, Haifa and Lod, followed by homes in many of the destroyed villages like Saffuriya.

She said Adalah was already preparing an appeal to the high court on behalf of the refugees, and if unsuccessful would then take the matter to international courts.

Adalah has received inquiries from hundreds of Palestinian refugees from around the world asking what they can do to stop Israel selling their properties.

“Many of them expressed an interest in suing Israel,” she said.

and if you really want to see an inspiring and inspired creative representation of this struggle of palestinian refugees who continue to fight for the right of return watch this amazing rap music video (featuring two dear friends of mine in the spoken oral history portions) by invincible, suheill nafar of dam, and abeer called “people not places.” the lyrics are below after the video.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

Prepare for take off
Touch down Ben-Gurion

This references Ben-Gurion International Airport, named after Israel’s first Prime Minister.
Strict search make sure nobody enters with bombs
Blue white flags
For the Birthright Tour I’m on

Birthright Israel is a program that grants any Jewish youth a free 10-day tour of Israel. These tours encourage participants to believe that they, as Jews, have an exclusive “birthright” to Palestine.

Learn more about Birthright Israel by watching the “Definitions” video.
Never mention three villages the airport is on

More than 400 Palestinian villages were destroyed during the creation of the state of Israel. See All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 by Walid Khalidi (Institute for Palestine Studies).
Recent history buried
But it speaks through the sand
All Jews: Law of Return

Israel’s Law of Return guarantees access to and citizenship in Israel to all Jews throughout the world–no matter whether they have ever been there, have family there, or whether they want this right. Palestinian refugees who were expelled during the creation of Israel are denied the right to return.

Learn more about the Law of Return by watching the “Definitions” interview video.
I don’t seem to understand
“A land without a people for people without a land”?

Zionist ideology promotes the idea that Palestine was “a land without a people for people without a land,” thereby denying the very existence of the indigenous Palestinian population, and masking the harm done by Jewish colonization.

Learn more by watching the “Definitions” interview video.
But I see a man standing with a key and a deed in his hand
First stop: museum of the Holocaust

Yad Vashem, Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Nazi Holocaust is located only a stones throw from the destroyed Palestinian village of Deir Yassin, site of one of the most notorious massacres of Palestinians in the 1948 war. Yad Vashem recently fired an instructor who compared the trauma of Jewish Holocaust survivors with the trauma experienced by the Palestinian people.
Walkin outside—in the distance—saw a ghost throwing a Molotov

Deir Yassin was a Palestinian village near Jerusalem. It was depopulated after a massacre of around 107 of its residents on April 9, 1948 by Zionist paramilitaries from the Irgun and Stern Gang. More info.
Houses burnt with kerosene
Mass graves
Couldn’t bear the scene
It wasn’t a pogrom—it was the ruins of Deir Yassin
Next stop: shopping at the Kenyon Malcha

The Kenyon Malcha is a shopping mall in Jerusalem whose name was stolen from the destroyed Palestinian village Al-Malha.
Built it on the back of the town Al-Malha

Watch a tour of the remains of Al-Malha, led by Zochrot, a group of Israeli citizens working to raise awareness of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948.
Wishing we could call it its name
Uphauled by the change
And now a mall full of chains
Is all that remains

This line is a reference to the book All That Remains: The Palestinian Villages Occupied and Depopulated by Israel in 1948 by Walid Khalidi (Institute for Palestine Studies).

HOOK:
My Ima misses people not places
Has she seen the towns with names in Arabic the Hebrew replaces?
The policies are evil and racist, deceitful and heinous
You’l never be a peaceful state with legal displacement

[Abeer – translated from Arabic]
Remember the names of our cities before you came and replaced it
Remember and tell me how am I supposed not to miss a nation living within us?

This line is inspired by a famous Palestinian saying, “Most people live in a nation, we have a nation living within us.”

At the Wailing Wall I’m rollin a wish
Then stick it in between the hole in the bricks
I’m feelin more than melancholy
This used to be the Moroccan quarter

On the evening of 10 June 1967, several hundred residents of the Moroccan Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem were given two hours notice to vacate their homes. Those who refused the orders were forcefully evicted from their places of residence, as bulldozers and floodlights were mobilized to raze the area. So suddenly came this dictate that one woman from the quarter who did not hear the calls to vacate was buried alive beneath the rubble that evening. Her body was found the next morning under the ruins of her home.

To learn more, see “The Moroccan Quarter: A History of the Present” by Thomas Abowd (Jerusalem Quarterly issue 7).
Until we stopped em short and
Now their grandkids is the ones that’s throwing rocks at borders
I aint one to play and I don’t pray often
So I’m AWOL’n

Invincible applied to refuse her Israeli military service in 2004. The process for her was rather simple because she was living in the U.S. But most refusers in Israel face jail time or worse. More info.
While you making native sons
Feel like a stranger in they own land like James Baldwin
This aint about a Qur’an or a synagogue or Mosque or Torah
The colonizer break it into acres and dunums

One of the early strategies of Zionist colonization was to buy up Palestinian land and displace the current residents. Most of this land was purchased from non-Palestinian absentee landlords.

The word “dunums” used in the song refers to a unit of land measurement used in Palestine.
Erasing the culture
Changed Haifa to Chaifa
Changed Yaffa to Yaffo

Zionists have not only stolen Palestinian land, but have appropriated and Hebrewized the Arab names of these cities and villages
The old city left to haunt
Hummus pronounced chumoos, we ate in a restaurant

This refers to the Hebrew pronunciation of Hummus, the tasty mashed chickpea dip. As stated by Israeli food critic Gil Hovav to the BBC, “Humous is Arabic. Falafel, our national dish, our national Israeli dish, is completely Arabic and this salad that we call an Israeli Salad, actually it’s an Arab salad, Palestinian salad. So, we sort of robbed them of everything.”
Next hit the discotheque
Yes we on the list of guests
Palestinians cant get in
Its blatant disrespect
Cops stop em for speakin they language
Its dangerous
To repeat it when
With history we disconnect

[Suhell Nafar (DAM) – translated from Arabic]
My life is like a flight from an Israeli airport
It means that you’ll never see me with pink

At Ben-Gurion Airport, pink stickers represent low security.
And I know that I’m 1 but they say that I’m 5

At Ben-Gurion Airport, 1 represents low security and 5 represents high security
They’re dying to talk talk to me
So the security wait in the entrance
Suddenly the whole airport flew and it became Tel Aviv airport
Even though its in Lydd

Ben-Gurion International Airport is promoted as being located in Tel Aviv, but is actually in Lydd
Dig the land of Lydd and you’ll see resistance
Go to the houses you’ll see hopelessness
The streets are called Tzahal and Hertzl

Tzahal is the Hebrew acronym for the Israeli Defense Forces. Hertzl is the founder of Zionist political ideology.
Not Salahadin

Salahadin led Islamic opposition to European crusaders in 12th century. More info.
Khen el Helu

Khen el Helu is the name of an ancient ruins site in Lydd. This line is a double entendre because “helu” is the Arabic word for “sweet.”
Became sour
A place for junkies and addicts
The carpets of the Dahamash Mosque
Is covering the wound that is still bleeding

Israeli fighters massacred Palestinians in 1948 in the Dahamash Mosque in Lydd. There are still blood stains on the floor.
Yehud Lod

Yehud Lod is a Jewish Settlement being built in the middle of Lydd in order to ensure a large Jewish population in that city.
Another project that drives you crazy
And its not the first and its not the last
We’re an ocean and the Zionist project is a ship
We’re rowing with the right and the left wing straight to the waterfall
When they fall the Holy Land will stop being a hell land

HOOK

200 year old olive trees
Uprooted the groves
To build a wall
Now their future enclosed
Settlements spreading like cancer and toxic sewage polluted the roads

In the Palestinian village of Artas, located southeast of Bethlehem, for example, the Israeli military has uprooted apricot and walnut trees in order to build a sewage channel that will pipe in raw sewage collected from four nearby Israeli settlements. More info.
Now full of checkpoints
I superimpose the truth and it shows
Village ruins overgrown with planted trees
Who’d have thought the “desert blooms” and Tu Bishvat

Israel celebrates that it has “made the desert bloom.” But forest-planting has played a role in the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. Forests in the Negev Desert have been planted to restrict Bedouin herding. Palestinians’ olive trees, an important source of fruit and oil, have been cut down and replaced by pine and cypress trees.

After the 1948 war, forests were planted on the sites of abandoned Arab villages whose inhabitants left or were expelled from their homes. These forests, planted by the Jewish National Fund (JNF), erase the traces of the Arab presence prior to 1948 and cover up the demolition of Arab villages. In 2008, in response to pressure by the Israeli Nakba commemoration organization Zochrot, the JNF announced that historical information plaques erected in JNF parks and forests will cite the names of the Arab villages formerly located there.

“Tu Bishvat,” referenced in the song, is the Jewish Holiday considered “New Year of the Trees.” In Israel, this holiday is used as a time for mass tree plantings. Invincible was born close to the time of this holiday and was given the birth name Ilana, which translates as “Tree.” More info.
I cant believe
This aint environmental
Disguising lies, extincting lives like manatees
Callin it a transfer? Please—
More like a catastrophe!
Birthright tours recruiting em, confuse em into moving in
Claim its only names and words but denying the root of them
Power been abusing it
Our past never excusing them
60 years since 48 and 40 since Jerusalem
My boy Shadi wanted to visit it so badly
He lied he’s diabetic to see it for five seconds

A friend of Invincible’s, who lives in Deheisheh Refugee Camp, told her that although he is only a 10 minute drive from Jerusalem (Al Quds in Arabic), he has only ever visited the city for a few hours. To do this he had to use a faked medical emergency card for diabetes to be allowed to cross the Israeli military checkpoint.
One Nine Four ruled the courts in the case

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 asserts the right of refugees to return to their homes:

“Refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” More info.
Mom, you can’t disconnect a people from the importance of place

HOOK

انا اصلي نن…

DSC00012

before i left palestine a dear friend of mine gave me a beautiful silver necklace she had made for me. it says: فلسطين لاجئين 194. i think that this necklace has made more people in jordan offer up where they are originally from. ever since i crossed the border into jordan the other day i hear from everyone i meet, انا اصلي من… the first person was the manager of the taxi shop on the sheikh hussein bridge. he is originally from beesan, the palestinian village closest to this crossing point. the next person was the man working the front desk at the hotel. he’s from iraq al manshiya. next my new landlord who is from halhul. and then the cook at the hotel who is from dawayima. and then the taxi driver who is from ramallah. this is the first time i’ve been in jordan and have had so many people offer up where they are from, where they belong, where they long to return so quickly.

zakariya's mosque still standing
zakariya's mosque still standing

a few days before coming here a dear friend of mine who is writing a memoir about his life with another dear friend of mine had a meeting in deheishe refugee camp with his uncle, his mother’s brother, to hear more about his village and his mother’s family’s history. i was in al quds, where he lives, and told them i was going back to deheishe and could drive them if they wanted. but i told them i had to run an errand on the way–an errand that would lead us to drive past his mother’s village of zakariya on the way. they decided to come with me and to take some time to visit his mother’s village. my friend has been past it many times over the years, but he’s never gone inside the zionist terrorist colony that now exists on his mother’s land.

a view of zakariya, palestine with the mosque still in the center of the village
a view of zakariya, palestine with the mosque still in the center of the village

i have been to zakariya with kids from deheishe refugee camp in the past so i knew where the mosque was and the one remaining palestinian home and the school that were not destroyed. we drove around for a bit, but he was clearly uncomfortable being there and so we did not stay long. as we drove out of the village i noticed that the sign, which used to say the name of the village in arabic, english, and hebrew had the arabic scratched out (mind you, it was the transliteration of hebrew and not the original name of the village, but it was arabic nonetheless). only one week ago when we were at camp with the kids that arabic was on the sign. now it is not. it seems that vigilante colonists are taking action in relation to the new initiative to make all signs in palestine only have transliterations from the hebrew whether in arabic or in english. i wrote about this new racist apartheid project on the part of the zionist entity last week, but here is an update from imemc:

In a recent and bold move by the Netanyahu government, the Arabic names of cities within Israeli borders and Jerusalem are being changed to Hebrew.

The Israeli Minister of Transport has been charged with the task of erasing the Arabic names in Israel, in what has been condemned as a bigoted attempt to deconstruct the Palestinian legacy, especially in Jerusalem. The Arabic name of Al Quds is also set to be changed, as is Nazareth, and other cities within Israel.Palestinian Chief of Justice has responded by declaring this as a means of erasing the Arab identity in Jerusalem and greater Israel. The Chief Justice and Chairman of the Commission in Support of Islamic and Christian Sanctities in Jerusalem has made similar statements, and calling it an act of racism. In addition to these implications, it is against international law to make such changes to a city that is still contested territory. From the creation of the Israeli state, Jerusalem has been a heavily contested area, subjected to many changes, land confiscation, home demolitions, evacuations, and settlements to cut the city off from its Palestinian heritage.

ethnic cleansing courtesy of zionist terrorist colonists
ethnic cleansing courtesy of zionist terrorist colonists

my friend jen marlowe wrote a piece about this for world focus, where she shares some of the history she heard later in deheishe camp that day:

Less than an hour later, we were sitting in Deheisheh Refugee Camp, talking with Sami’s uncle Mustafa, two years younger than Sami’s mother. We asked Mustafa to fill in the missing gaps of his sister’s story, and he was more than happy to oblige. Sami and I learned the details of how his grandfather died fighting the British in 1939 and the attacks that pushed out the residents of Zakariyya.

Zakariyya holds a prominent place in Mustafa’s house in Deheisheh and in his heart. A 1921 photograph of the old school (now convenience store) with students sitting cross legged outside is framed on a shelf. A map of Zakariyya is on the wall, with the former houses indicated and a code to decipher which areas were inhabited by which families.

Mustafa spoke not only about his memories of losing Zakariyya. He spoke about a more recent pain as well. His older sister, Sami’s mother, had been struck two times with brain tumors. The first was in 1977 when Sami was fifteen years old. She received a life-saving surgery. Mustafa came to the hospital in Jerusalem every day. He fed her daily, tenderly. She would eat only from his hands. The second tumor took root in her brain in 2007. But this time, Mustafa could not feed his sister as she lay on her death bed in Jerusalem. The Israeli military would not issue him a permit to visit her.

Mustafa and Sami sat in silence as I digested this information. The evening call to prayer sounded from a nearby mosque in the camp. It was time to wrap up the interview. I had one final question. “Did you realize in 1948 that you were leaving Zakariyya for good?”

Uncle Mustafa’s eyes glistened slightly, both from the memory of his beloved home and the fresh loss of his sister.

“Until now I don’t accept that I left for good. As long as I am alive, I have hope that I will someday return.”

Those who were forced to leave their homes will always be filled with longing to return to them. Acknowledgment and empathy are natural responses. But Mustafa’s yearning seems to be met with something other than empathy by the current residents of Zakariyya. With fear, perhaps? Dismissal? Contempt? Whatever it is, it permits the ancient mosque of the historic village to dilapidate to the point of ruin. It permits the Arabic word “Zakariyya” to be scratched out on the entrance’s sign. As if by scratching out the name, somehow the existence of Zakariyya and its people will themselves be erased.

Mustafa’s very presence, however, is a form of resistance to this deletion. Sami’s uncle sits surrounded by memories and remembrances of his home, waiting in quiet dignity for his longing and his claim to be acknowledged rather than erased.

one of the most amazing things mustafa gave sami was a map of the village of zakariya. a group of refugees from the village got together and mapped out where exactly everyone lived in their village and color coded it by family and listed the names of the families on it. i took a photo of it and posted it below. it is amazing and i hope that by spreading this around others can do the same for history’s sake and for claiming their land when they return to their villages.

a map of zakariya village
a map of zakariya village

the erasure of the village via nightly murders of palestinians in zakariya, something that ultimately forced them to flee to places like ramla inside 1948 palestine where some are internal refugees, as well as to refugee camps like deheishe, was one level of ethnic cleansing. but of course this is ongoing with the new laws forcing the word nakba that describes this history to be cleansed from textbooks:

The Israeli government decided on Wednesday to remove the term ‘Nabka’ from school textbooks. Israel’s education Ministry said that using term Nakba or catastrophe to describe the creation of Israel is inconceivable.

Approximately 700.000 Palestinian were expelled and displaced by Jewish arm groups and hundreds of Palestinian villages and towns were destroyed in 1948 and the state of Israel was declared on Palestinian lands.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, claimed that using the word Nakba in Arab school is considered as spreading propaganda against Israel. The decision to bar using ‘Nakba’ in textbooks was made despite the fact that it is only used in Arab schools in Israel.

It was introduced into textbooks in Arab schools in 2007 when the Israeli Education Ministry was headed by Yuli Tamir, member of the Labor Party. The textbooks that contains the term Nakba was intended to be studied by children aged eight and nine.

Yisrael Twito, spokesperson of the current Israel Education Minister, Gideon Sa’ar, said that the ministry studied the issue and decided that using the term Nakba to described ‘Israel’s independence’ should be removed.

The term Nakba was not used without presenting the Israeli side of it, the text reads ‘the Arabs described the war of 1948 as the Nakba – catastrophe, loss and humiliation, and the Jews calls it the war of independence’, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. Arab member of Knesset, Jamal Zahalka, stated that the Arabs will not accept to be gagged by laws that aims at controlling their feelings, beliefs and history.

‘We will not accept to be silenced, we will continue to shout out loud, their independence is our catastrophe’, Zahalka stated, ‘We will always oppose Zionism, and we will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state’.

The new law was approved by 38 members of Knesset, while 14 voted against it. It also bars any institution that receives government funding in Israel from commemorating the Nakba, or financing related activities.

and it gets worse. now, as jonathan cook reports in electronic intifada, palestinians are going to be forced to study the zionist entity’s anthem, yet another method of ethnic cleansing one that is an attempt to cleanse the minds of palestinian youth:

A leading Arab educator in Israel has denounced the decision of Gideon Saar, the education minister, to require schools to study the Israeli national anthem.

Officials announced last week that they were sending out special “national anthem kits” to 8,000 schools, including those in the separate Arab education system, in time for the start of the new academic year in September.

The kits have been designed to be suitable for all age groups and for use across the curriculum, from civics and history classes to music and literature lessons.

The anthem, known as Hatikva, or The Hope, has long been unpopular with Israel’s Palestinian minority because its lyrics refer only to a Jewish historical connection to the land.

Saar’s initiative is widely seen among Israel’s 1.3 million Palestinian citizens as a further indication of the rising nationalistic tide sweeping policymakers.

Last week the ministry also announced that textbooks recently issued to Arab schoolchildren would have expunged the word “nakba,” or catastrophe, to describe the Palestinians’ dispossession at Israel’s founding in 1948.

Hala Espanioly, who chairs the education committee of the Arab minority’s supreme political body, the Higher Follow-Up Committee, told the Israeli news website Ynet: “If there is an attempt to force the Hatikva anthem on Arab schools and Arab pupils, it will be akin to a kind of attempted rape of their identity.”

The issue of the national anthem, based on a 120-year-old poem by Naftali Hertz Imber and an ancient folk melody, has been a running sore between Israel’s Jewish and Arab populations for decades.

Arab citizens are unhappy with its heavily Zionist lyrics, which speak of how the “soul of a Jew yearns” to return to Zion, as well as referring to “The hope of two thousand years, To be a free nation in our land.”

In 2005 some legislators were outraged when an Israeli parliamentary committee considered, among possible constitution changes, revising the anthem’s lyrics from “the soul of a Jew'” to “the soul of an Israeli.” The change was not approved.

Saar, then an ordinary politician, led the opposition to changing the lyrics: “In two words: definitely not. I wouldn’t make any changes to Hatikva. It would be a compromise on the state’s identity.”

The refusal of prominent Arabs to sing the anthem in public has provoked several notable controversies.

The most high-profile concerned Raleb Majadele, of the Labor party, who was appointed Israel’s first Arab cabinet minister in 2007. In an interview he said that, though he always stood during Hatikva, he drew the line at singing it.

He later defended his position to Israeli radio: “Where is it written that a person appointed to be a cabinet minister in Israel must stop being an Arab, and turn into a member of a different religion and ethnicity?”

Arab players in Israel’s national football squad have also admitted being uncomfortable during the playing of the anthem before games. TV broadcasts often zoom in to show that their lips are not moving.

Abir Kupty, today an elected official with the Nazareth municipality, produced one of Israeli TV’s most talked-about moments four years ago when she was filmed sitting down when the anthem was played. She was the only Arab contestant in a reality show to find Israel’s future leaders.

Kupty said: “This decision by the education ministry is part of the current hysterical right-wing mood in Israel. They hope they can erase our Palestinian identity by making us love the anthem.”

She added that Arab pupils were already deprived of the chance to learn about their own history, culture and identity. “The curriculum in Arab schools is heavily controlled by Jewish officials and by the security services.”

Sofia Yoad, the education ministry’s director of curriculum development, said the anthem kits included a book and two CDs containing 40 historic recordings of Hatikva, including it being sung in a concentration camp and at the Declaration of Independence.

“It is very important to learn about the national anthem even if pupils are not Jewish,” she said. “After all, this is the story of a country’s independence.”

Astrith Baltsan, a pianist who researched and wrote the book over three years, said she had originally been commissioned to produce it for Israel’s 60th anniversary celebrations last year.

But when Saar saw it, she said, he had been keen to use it in all schools. She added that, when she played the anthem at a ministry launch party last week, even the Arab schools inspectors stood. “When you know the story of the anthem, you show it respect,” she said.

The Higher Follow-Up Committee, a national political body representing Israel’s Arab minority, has staunchly opposed the use of the kits. It wrote last week to Saar, warning that the initiative would “only deepen the alienation of Arab students and teachers.”

Figures released by the education ministry this month show that only 32 percent of Arab students passed their matriculation exam last year, compared to 60 percent of Jewish students. The pass rate was a dramatic drop from the 50.7 percent of Arab pupils who matriculated in 2006.

Yousef Jabareen, head of Dirasat, a Nazareth-based organization monitoring education issues, blamed the poor results on growing cultural bias in the Israeli education system as well as severe budgetary discrimination.

He said the increasing weight placed on Jewish heritage and Judaism lessons put Arab pupils at a severe disadvantage, and that further alienation was caused by the state’s refusal to allow the Arab education system any autonomy in selecting its own curriculum.

A report published in March, he added, showed that the government invested $1,100 in each Jewish pupil’s education compared to $190 for each Arab pupil. There was also a shortfall of more than 1,000 classrooms for Arab students.

Jabareen pointed out that a committee appointed last year by the dovish previous education minister, Yuli Tamir, had recommended curriculum reforms to encourage a “shared life” and common values among pupils, including more frequent encounters between Jewish and Arab students.

In April Saar quashed the committee’s report.

Opposition to the study of Hatikva is shared by ultra-religious Jews known as the Haredim. They believe the anthem should include a reference to God in the lyrics, and have proposed an alternative entitled HaEmunah.

a walk through beit jala and then some…

gilo colony with building crane in center
gilo colony with building crane in center

this afternoon my friends wanted to take a walk. we went to cremsian, a church with a vineyard in beit jala. we went for a walk here once before, but it was late at night and so i couldn’t see as much as we could see today. this church is in the middle of a beautiful palestinian forest and farmlands. but it also has a view of zionist terrorist colonies all around it, which are on land stolen from beit jala. we also had a view of the jewish-only roads connecting the zionist terrorist colonies, which are a part of the apartheid wall and its regime which you can see in the distance. the end of the road on our walk gave us a view of one of my friend’s villages, malha, which now includes a shopping mall (with burger king among other american businesses) and a sports stadium on her land, land which she is not allowed to even visit. as we walked along this beautiful road through beit jala, with a view of the zionist terrorist colony of gilo across from us along the way i could see cranes building new homes and one lone palestinian home in the valley between (all pictures here from the walk this evening).

jewish only road cutting through beit jala with apartheid wall & sniper towers in distance
jewish only road cutting through beit jala with apartheid wall & sniper towers in distance

walking through this land i kept thinking about the news yesterday about an increase in funding for more colonies by the zionist entity:

Israel plans to allocate 250 million dollars over the next two years for settlements in the occupied West Bank despite US pressure to halt settlement activity, army radio said on Sunday.

The figure is contained in the 2009-2010 budget, which passed its first reading in the Knesset parliament last week, it said.

Some 125 million dollars (90 million euros) is to be used for various security expenses, with most of the rest destined for housing construction, it said.

interestingly, while the government continues its colonial expansion, apparently there are no buyers for these new homes:

The Israeli TV aired a report on Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories, and revealed that while word leaders might believe Israel had stopped the construction of settlements, more units are being built with no buyers in sight.

of course these houses are not really for people, but for the zionist entity to continue its colonial enterprise. a new court case reveals the extent to which the government is complicit in this process (though for those who are in the know this seems like merely stating the obvious):

One document that has just been exposed in the courtroom is a real estate transaction that exemplifies the process involved in hundreds of thousands of cases of Israeli settlers who have illegally taken over Palestinian land. The document is a contract showing that the World Zionist Organization, working on behalf of the Israeli government, took private land belonging to Palestinians in the West Bank and rented it to Jewish settlers (nearly all of the land inside Israel is owned by the Jewish Agency and rented on 99-year leases to Israeli Jews, who can only rent the land with the stipulation that only Jews will be allowed to live there).

In one such case presented to the court, Netzach and Esther Brodt, a young Jewish couple, were issued a lease for land on Ofra settlement, but were not told that the settlement was illegal under Israeli law and had been scheduled for demolition. When the Palestinian owners of the land, along with allies in the Israeli human rights movement, went to court to demand that the Israeli government enforce its own court’s order to demolish the illegal outpost, the court gave the government two weeks to explain why demolition had not yet occurred. Instead of replying to the court, the government took the two weeks to hastily complete construction of eight houses, including the one sold to Netzach and Esther Brodt. Once the houses were completed, the Israeli government froze the demolition order on the settlement, and allowed the outright theft to take place, despite even the orders from their own courts.

This is just one example of the multitude of cases in which the World Zionist Organization, working as an agent of the Israeli government, willfully defied Israeli court orders, signed agreements with the Palestinian Authority, and Israel’s obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention in order to establish more ‘facts on the ground’ of Israeli homes built on Palestinian land, calculating that the Israeli government would be less likely to approve the land theft if the houses were already built.

DSC00038

as a part of this colonial expansion, palestinians are either having to demolish their own homes (otherwise their home will be demolished by israeli terrorist forces and the palestinian family will still have to pay the bill for the demolishing of their own home) or their houses will be demolished anyway. one such family had to demolish his home in al quds:

Muhammad Najib Al-Ju’ba, who has lived with his family for generations on Virgin Street near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, was forced by Israeli troops to demolish his own home this weekend, making the third home demolished in this way this week alone.

Israeli demolition orders in Jerusalem have increased exponentially since Binyamin Netanyahu, a right-wing Israeli leader who campaigned on ‘no compromise’ with the Palestinians, came to power in March.

The military allegedly acted on orders from the Israeli Municipality of Jerusalem (there are currently two Jerusalem municipalities – one Israeli, one Palestinian, but only the Israeli one has armed enforcement agents and a military).

Al-Juba was told that he must demolish his home or pay 13,000 Israeli shekels to the Israeli Jerusalem Municipal government. The reason given was the extra room that Al-Juba had constructed to accommodate his growing family.

near qalqilia it is palestinian farm land that is being destroyed by israeli terrorist forces:

Israeli authorities notified farmers in the village of Azzun Atma on Sunday that their agricultural infrastructure will be destroyed, according to Palestinian source.

Azzun Atma, near Qalqiliya, is a small community cut off from the rest of the West Bank by Israel’s separation wall and wedged between two Israeli settlements. The villager’s only access to the outside world is through a military checkpoint.

The demolition orders condemn stables, barns, and water tanks which were provided by the Agriculture Institutions Union four years ago.

there have been demonstrations this week protesting this ethnic cleansing policy of the zionist apartheid regime like the one in al quds yesterday:

A group of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, including lead clerics with the Islamic Waqf in Jerusalem, held a non-violent demonstration Sunday in the Al-Bastan neighborhood in Silwan, an area scheduled for takeover by Israeli authorities. According to documents made public by the Israeli Jerusalem municipality, Israel plans to destroy 88 Palestinian homes and apartment buildings in the neighborhood – a move that would displace up to 1500 Palestinians.

and then later sunday evening palestinians in al quds received even more house demolition orders:

The Israeli municipality of Jerusalem handed out on Sunday evening more demolition orders to 65 Palestinian families all over east Jerusalem.

According to local sources some of these families had received the same notices before.

The orders were issued under new legislation, Israeli law 212. Law 212 allows homes to be demolished or evacuated without any formal legal charges being brought forth or any party to be convicted of any alleged violation of the Israeli Planning and Building Law. Hateem Abed al Kader, the Minister of Jerusalem Affairs in the Palestinian Government said the demolition orders were political.

“The high number of demolition orders indicates they are political, their objective is to force Palestinians out and tip the demographic balance towards the settlers. The number of homes that are set for demolition in Jerusalem is now 1,200 homes.” Abed al Kader told IMEMC over the phone.

nour odeh’s report on al jazeera today about the case of bil’in fighting the confiscation of their land by zionist colonist terrorists is taking on resistance in a new direction by fighting the canadian corporations funding the colonies built on their land:

and while i’m on the subject of canda here i think it is worth pointing out that it is not only companies in canada, but the government itself that is complicit with the zionist terrorist colonial project in palestine as jonathan cook reported in electronic intifada last week:

Canada’s chief diplomat in Israel has been honored at an Israeli public park — built on occupied Palestinian land in violation of international law — as one of the donors who helped establish the park on the ruins of three Palestinian villages.

Jon Allen, Canada’s ambassador to Israel, is among several hundred Canadian Jews who have been commemorated at a dedication site. A plaque bearing Allen’s name is attached to a stone wall constructed from the rubble of Palestinian homes razed by the Israeli army.

Allen, who is identified as a donor along with his parents and siblings, has refused to talk about his involvement with the park.

Rodney Moore, a Canadian government spokesman, said the 58-year-old ambassador had not made a personal donation and that his name had been included as a benefactor when his parents gave their contribution. It is unclear whether he or they knew that the park was to be built on Palestinian land.

Canada Park, which is in an area of the West Bank that juts into Israel north of Jerusalem, was founded in the early 1970s following Israel’s occupation of the West Bank in the 1967 war. It is hugely popular for walks and picnics with the Israeli public, most of whom are unaware they are in Palestinian territory that is officially a “closed military zone.”

Uri Avnery, a former Israeli parliamentarian who is today a peace activist, has described the park’s creation as an act of complicity in “ethnic cleansing” and Canada’s involvement as “cover to a war crime.”

About 5,000 Palestinians were expelled from the area during the war, whose 42nd anniversary is being marked this month.

Israel’s subsequent occupation of the West Bank, as well as East Jerusalem and Gaza, is regarded as illegal by the international community, including by Canada. The country has become increasingly identified as a close ally of Israel under the current government of Stephen Harper, who appointed Allen as ambassador.

About $15 million — or $80m in today’s values — was raised in tax-exempt donations by the Canadian branch of a Zionist organization, the Jewish National Fund (JNF), to establish the 1,700-acre open space following the 1967 war.

The Canadian government spokesman declined to say whether an objection had been lodged with the fund over its naming of Allen as a donor, or whether Allen’s diplomatic role had been compromised by his public association with the park. The spokesman added that the park was a private initiative between Israel and the JNF in Canada.

That view was challenged by Dr. Uri Davis, an Israeli scholar and human rights activist who has co-authored a book on the Jewish National Fund.

“Canada Park is a crime against humanity that has been financed by and implicates not only the Canadian government but every taxpayer in Canada,” he said. “The JNF’s charitable status means that each donation receives a tax reduction paid for from the pockets of Canadian taxpayers.”

Davis and a Canadian citizen are scheduled to submit a joint application to the Canadian tax authorities next week to overturn the JNF’s charitable status. He said they would pursue the matter through the courts if necessary.

there are other corporate partners in the colonization of palestine as well (which are complicit in all sorts of horribile neo-colonial projects in africa as well as i’ve written about many times on this site). adri nieuwhof wrote a new article about this in electronic intifada today:

Africa-Israel is the latest target of a boycott campaign by Palestine solidarity activists because of the company’s involvement in the illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. American and European financial institutions hold a substantial stake in Africa-Israel Investment, investigations reveal.

Africa-Israel Investment is an international holding and investment company based in Israel whose subsidiary, Danya Cebus, has been deeply involved in the construction of illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). According to research by the Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace, the company executed construction projects in the Israeli settlements of Modi’in Illit, Ma’ale Adumim, Har Homa and Adam. In addition, Africa-Israel offers apartments and houses in various settlements in the West Bank through the Israeli franchise of its real estate agency, Anglo Saxon, which has a branch in the Ma’ale Adumim settlement.

Diamond mogul Lev Leviev is Chairman of the Africa-Israel Investment Board of Directors, and holds roughly 75 percent of the company. On 8 March, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Lev Leviev does not have a problem with building in the OPT “if the State of Israel grants permits legally.”

Leviev and his brother-in-law Daviv Eliashov own the company Leader Management and Development (LMD). According to the Israeli human rights organization B’Tselem, LMD requested and was granted approval to expand the Zufim settlement with approximately 1,400 housing units. The company has begun construction and in the process, orchards and agricultural lands belonging to the Palestinian village of Jayyus have been bulldozed, and their water wells and greenhouses confiscated.

a view of the palestinian village of malha
a view of the palestinian village of malha

but the problem remains that in all these reports, aside from people like jonathan cook, there continues to be a focus on colonies as only existing in the west bank. they exist all over historic palestine in the villages and cities where palestinian refugees have the right to return. today the organization adalah in 1948 palestine released a statement challenging the sale of palestinian homes in 1948 palestine to zionist colonists:

Adalah sent a letter to the Attorney General, Menachem Mazuz; the Director-General of the Israel Lands Administration (ILA), Yaron Bibi; the General Director of Amidar (a state-owned and state-run housing company), Yaakov Brosh; and Ronen Baruch, the Custodian of Absentees’ Property in May 2009 demanding the cancellation of tenders issued by the ILA for the sale of Palestinian refugee property in Israel. Adalah Attorney Suhad Bishara submitted the letter.

Recently, the ILA has been publishing tenders for the sale of “absentee” properties held by the Development Authorities of municipalities such as Nazareth, Haifa, Lydd (Lod), Akka (Acre), Rosh Pina and Beit She’an in Israel. In 2007, the ILA issued 96 tenders; in 2008, 106 tenders; and to date in 2009, 80 tenders.

The Custodian for Absentees’ Property transferred these properties to the Development Authority; these properties are classified as absentees’ property under the Absentees’ Property Law – 1950. The Absentees’ Property Law was the main legal instrument used by Israel to take possession of the land belonging to the internal and external Palestinian refugees. Under this law, any property belonging to absentees was taken and passed to the Custodian of Absentee Property for guardianship of the properties until a political solution for the refugees was reached. This law provides a very broad definition of who is an “absentee”; it encompasses Palestinians who fled or who were expelled to neighboring countries during and after the War of 1948. During the War of 1948, as many as 800,000 Palestinians were expelled or forced to flee outside the borders of the new state of Israel.

In the letter , Attorney Bishara argued that selling these absentee properties to private individuals is illegal under Israeli law. It contradicts the essence of the law which provides that the Custodian of Absentee Properties is the temporary guardian of these properties, until the status of the Palestinian refugees is resolved. “These tenders also contradict the Basic Law: Israel Lands – 1960 which prohibits the sale of lands defined as “Israeli lands”, which include, among others, the properties of the Development Authority,” she emphasized in the letter. She further argued that the sale of Palestinian refugee properties contradicts international humanitarian law which stipulates the need to respect the right of private property and explicitly prohibits the final expropriation of private property following the termination of warfare.

This latest step furthers Israel’s continued denial of the rights of the Palestinian refugees, and marks the final stages of an aggressive policy of creating facts on the ground that will frustrate any attempts to solve the Palestinian refugee problem. By selling these properties to private individuals, legal or political remedies for the refugees become increasingly difficult to implement. This measure is to the ultimate disadvantage of all parties involved; it further entrenches political discontent in order to profit from the refugees’ plight.

dan nolan did a report on this issue today for al jazeera showing the palestinian homes in haifa being sold to zionist terrorist colonists. he interviews abdel latif kanafani, a palestinian refugee in lebanon, whose home is one of those up for sale. this issue is significant because if the homes are owned by individuals instead of held by the state it could make the right of return all the more difficult for palestinian refugees.

some of these homes belong to palestinian refugees some of whom are living in tents yet again as a result of the american invasion and occupation of iraq. nisreen el shamayleh reported on the status of palestinian refugees who fled iraq to syria who are living in tents yet again:

adalah also released a new interactive map on its website today that shows all of the palestinian villages listed on it by district. it’s a great tool and worth exploring. you can see the villages where palestinian refugees come from and where they have a right to return to. just like the one below in beit jala that i took a photograph of on my evening walk today.

one palestinian house squeezed out by colony of gilo
one palestinian house squeezed out by colony of gilo

the latest move to make palestinian homes available for sale in 1948 palestine should be seen in tandem with the spate of racist laws that the zionist entity continues to forward to the knesset. azmi bishara has a great analysis of this in his article “loyalty to racism” in al-ahram this week:

I would say that two developments are unfolding in tandem. On the one hand, Israel is experiencing a deepening of and expansion in the concept and exercise of liberal political and economic civil rights (for Jewish citizens). At the same time, there is an upsurge in ultranationalist and right-wing religious extremism accompanied by flagrant manifestations of anti-Arab racism. As a consequence, the Jewish citizen endowed with fuller civil rights (than those that had existed in earlier phases when Zionist society was organised along the lines of a militarised quasi- socialist settler drive) is simultaneously an individual who is more exposed to and influenced by right-wing anti-Arab invective.

The contention that Israel had at one point been more democratic and is now sliding into fascism is fallacious. It brings to mind our protest demonstrations in the 1970s and the earnest zeal with which we chanted, “Fascism will not survive!” Our slogans were inspired by the Spanish left before the civil war in Spain and by the Italian left in the 1930s. But, in fact, the context was entirely different. Israel was the product of a colonialist settler drive that came, settled and survived. Fascism is a very specific form of rule, one that does not necessarily have to exist in a militarised settler society that founded itself on top of the ruins of an indigenous people. Indeed, that society organised itself along pluralistic democratic lines and it was unified on a set of fundamental principles and values as a basis for societal consensus. As militarist values figured prime among them, there was no need for a fascist coup to impose them. Even Sharon, who, from the perspective of the Israeli left, seemed poised to lead a fascist coup was one of the most ardent advocates of women’s rights during his rule. He also proved one of the more determined proponents of implementing the rulings of the Israeli Supreme Court, which is a relatively liberal body in the context of the Zionist political spectrum and within the constraints of Zionist conceptual premises. Israel has grown neither more nor less democratic. The scope of civil rights has expanded, as has the tide of right-wing racism against the Arabs.

Among the Arabs in Israel there have also been two tandem developments. The first is an increasing awareness of the rights of citizenship and civil liberties after a long period of living in fear of military rule and the Israeli security agencies, and in isolation from the Arab world. That period was also characterised by attempts to prove their loyalty to the state by dedicating themselves to the service of the daily struggle for material survival and progress in routine civic affairs. At the same time, however, the forces of increasing levels of education, the growth of a middle class, the progress of the Palestinian national movement abroad, the advances in communications technologies, the broadening organisational bonds among the Palestinians in Israel, and the cultural and commercial exchanges between them and the West Bank and Gaza combined to give impetus to a growing national awareness.

The Arab Israelis’ growing awareness of rights has paved the way for an assimilation drive to demand equality in Israel as a Jewish state. Such a demand is inherently unrealisable, as it would inevitably entail forsaking Palestinian national identity without obtaining true equality. Instead of assimilation there would only be further marginalisation. However, this danger still looms; there are Arab political circles in Israel that are convinced that this is the way forward. At the same time, there is the danger that truly nationalist forces could lose their connection with the realities of Palestinians’ civil life, by stressing their national identity exclusively with no reference to their citizenship or civil rights, or the conditions of their lives. This tendency threatens to isolate the nationalist movement from its grassroots, and this danger, too, persists although to a lesser extent.

The flurry of loyalty bills and the like reflects another phenomenon that has taken root among Arabs in Israel and that the Israeli establishment regards as a looming peril. This peril, from the Israeli perspective, is twofold. Not only can Palestinians exercise their civil rights in order to fight for equality, they can also take advantage of their civil rights in order to express and raise awareness of their national identity by, for example, commemorating the Nakba and establishing closer contact with the Arab world. Commemorating the Nakba — the anniversary of the creation of the state of Israel and the consequent displacement and dispossession of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians — is a relatively new practice for Arabs inside Israel, dating only to the mid-1990s. Before this — until at least the end of the 1970s, before the spread of national awareness gained impetus among Arabs inside Israel — many of them participated in the celebrations of Israel’s independence day and offered their congratulations to Israelis on the occasion. There were no laws against commemorating Nakba Day, not because Israel was more democratic but merely because there was no need for such laws in the eyes of the Israeli establishment, since the Arabs were not commemorating it anyway. In fact, open demonstrations of disloyalty to the state as a Zionist entity were very rare.

But since that time, change did not affect Israel alone. The political culture of broad swathes of Arabs inside that country shifted towards more open expressions of their national identity. To them, there is no contradiction between this and the exercise of their civil rights. Indeed, they felt it their natural right to use the civil liberties with which they are endowed by virtue of their citizenship to engage in forms of political expression that the Israeli establishment regards as contradictory to its concept of citizenship. Naturally, the clash became more pronounced with the growing stridency of right-wing Zionist racism.

The citizenship of Arabs inside Israel has a distinct quality that I have been attempting to underscore for years. Theirs does not stem from ideological conviction or the exercise of the Zionist law of return. Nor is their situation similar to migrant labour or minorities who have chosen to immigrate to the country and who accommodate to the status quo, as is the case with immigrant communities in the US or France, for example. Their citizenship stems from the reality of their having remained in the country after it was occupied. They are the indigenous people. It is not their duty to assimilate to the Zionist character of the state and the attempt to transform them into patriotic Israelis is an attempt to falsify history, to distort their cultural persona and fragment their moral cohesion. A Palestinian Arab who regards himself as an Israeli patriot is nought. He is someone who has accepted to be something less than a citizen and less than a Palestinian and who simultaneously identifies with those who have occupied Palestinian lands and repressed and expelled his people.

It is impossible, here, to examine all facets of the phenomenon, but we should also touch upon a third trend, which is the growing degree of showmanship, sensationalism and catering to the forces of popular demand on the part of Knesset members. This trend is to be found in all parliamentary systems since television cameras made their way into parliamentary chambers. Parliament has become a theatre and a large proportion of MPs have become comedians or soap opera stars, depending on their particular gifts and/or circumstances. However, when the favourite drama or comedy theme is incitement against the Arabs, this can only signify that anti-Arab prejudices, fear mongering, abuse and intimidation are spreading like wildfire. This is the very dangerous and not at all funny part about the parliamentary circus. And it’s going to get grimmer yet for Arabs in Israel.

In the Obama era, following the failure of Bush’s policies, the Israeli government will be directing the venom of its right-wing racist coalition against East Jerusalem and Israeli Arabs. After all, it will be easier to focus on domestic matters, such as emphasis on the Jewishness of the state, than on settlements in the occupied territories. Some of the proposed loyalty laws, such as that which would sentence to prison anyone who does not agree to the Jewishness of the state, will have a tough time making it through the legislative process. However, merely by submitting the proposal, the racist MK will have killed two birds with one stone: he will have made a dramatic appearance before the cameras so that his constituents will remember his name come next elections, and he will have stoked the fires of anti-Arab hatred. Other laws may stand a better chance. The proposal to ban the commemoration of Nakba Day could pass like the law prohibiting the raising of the Palestinian flag, or it could fail because even on the right there are those who object to such a ban. It is also doubtful that this country could promulgate a law compelling people to swear an oath of allegiance, because the intended targets are not immigrants but citizens by birth. It would require quite a feat of constitutional re-engineering in order to render citizenship acquired by birth subject to a loyalty oath at some later phase in a person’s life.

Naturally, no state, however totalitarian it may be, can impose love and loyalty for it by force, let alone a colonialist state that would like to force this on the indigenous inhabitants it had reduced to a minority on their own land. Certainly it would be much easier for Israel to prohibit manifestations of disloyalty than to legislate for forced manifestations of loyalty.

For many years I’ve been advocating a Palestinian interpretation of citizenship in Israel that Israel continues to reject, with consequences to myself that readers may well be aware of. According to this interpretation, the Palestinian Israeli effectively tells the ruling authorities, “My loyalty does not go beyond the bounds of being a law abiding citizen who pays his taxes and the like. As for my keeping in touch with Palestinian history and with the Arab world in matters that should be inter-Arab, such things should not have to pass via you or require your approval.” Such talk was previously unheard of in Israel and it came as quite a shock to the ears of interlocutors used to liberal-sounding references to “our Arab citizens” who serve as “a bridge of peace” and proof of “the power of Israeli democracy”. Rejecting such condescension, the new type of Palestinian says, “My Palestinianness existed before your state was created on top of the ruins of my people. Citizenship is a compromise I have accepted in order to be able to go on living here in my land. It is not a favour that you bestow on me with strings attached.”

Apparently, more and more Arab citizens have come around to this attitude, to the extent that Israel has begun to realise that the material exigencies of life or gradual acclimatisation to Israeli ways and political realities will not be able to stop the trend. It has come to believe that only new laws will bring a halt to what it regards as dangerous manifestations of disloyalty. Such laws will be inherently oppressive but they will simultaneously pronounce the failure of Israelification.

“we’re not racists, we just don’t want arabs” so say zionist terrorist colonists

if you saw my post earlier today with the video from max blumenthal than you know how zionist terrorist colonists openly express their racism verbally. it is normal. the problem is that it is normally associated with extreme violence as well. just now a palestinian, who was on his way home from work, was attacked while racial slurs were being hurled at him. of course, this won’t be described as terrorism in the media and likely few sources other than imemc will report it:

A 20-year old Palestinian man from Jerusalem was wounded on Thursday at night after he was attacked by a group of extremist settlers.

Resident Husam Al Za’tary, from Jerusalem, works at a bakery in West Jerusalem. He was attacked while waiting at a bus stop as he was heading back home.

He was approached by a group of young settlers who first insulted him for “being an Arab”, and then violently attacked him, and were even joined later on by another group of settlers, students of a Talmud School in the area.

An armed school guard also took part in the attack, and pointed his gun at the head of the Palestinian man threatening to kill him.

The man was later on hospitalized at an Arab hospital in the city.

there were more examples of racism in the news today coming from zionist terrorist colonists in jaleel. check out this article by eli ashkenazi in ha’aretz showing “liberal” zionist terrorist colonists who think “we’re not racists, we just don’t want arabs” and imagine any other category being inserted into that sentence and how the world’s reaction might differ:

Residents of the Misgav bloc of communities in the Galilee consider themselves to be liberal, peace-loving people who support coexistence with their Arab neighbors and even root for Bnei Sakhnin, the soccer club based in a nearby Arab town considered a prominent symbol of that community. Which is why they were shocked this week when proposals raised at local council meetings to accept only applicants who shared their Zionist principles drew negative headlines and criticism for alleged racism.

“The label upsets me,” South Africa-born lawyer Michael Zetler, who founded the Misgav community of Manof in 1980 with other immigrants from what was then an apartheid state, said Thursday. “It hurt me. I am not a racist.”

Although few people will say so, the panic that spurred the submission of the controversial proposals are related to the High Court of Justice’s ruling two years ago that upheld the right of Ahmed and Fahina Zubeidat, an Israeli Arab couple, to buy a house in the exclusively Jewish community of Rakefet notwithstanding the local admissions committee’s objection.

Since then, some residents of Jewish communal settlements in the Galilee fear that the region’s substantial Arab population might seek to buy property in their communities, where the standard of living is far higher, causing Jews to move out. In some areas of the Galilee this has already taken place: Portions of the once-exclusively Jewish town of Upper Nazareth are now populated by newcomers from the nearby Arab city of Nazareth.

“I agree that there is a problem, but whether this is the right way to deal with it, I am not sure,” Zetler said yesterday. “Experience will tell. But there is a problem in the Galilee and people are challenging the political right of [Jewish] communities.”

Residents of the Misgav bloc are not used to being accused of racism, and dismay at being compared to Jewish settlers in the West Bank. “It’s unpleasant and even offensive to wake up one morning and find that you’ve turned into [Avigdor] Lieberman when in fact it’s the other way around,” Alon Mayer, another resident of Manof, said, referring to the hawkish Yisrael Beiteinu chairman who proposed that Israeli Arabs be required to take an oath of loyalty to the state.

Mayer pointed out that the right-wing party headed by Lieberman garnered only 2.5 percent of the town’s vote in the last Knesset elections – far below the national average. Despite feeling on the defensive, Mayer will not apologize for supporting the demand that applicants who seek to buy property in the communal settlement should adhere to the locals’ basic cultural and political beliefs.

“When we decided to move to Manof, we sought a community that chose similar basic principles to our own, such as good education for children, culture, celebrating a Jewish communal lifestyle and protecting the environment,” a woman from Manof said. “We joined this community knowing it is founded on these values.”

Some Misgav bloc residents accuse Arab rights groups such as Adalah, which would rather Israel be defined as a binational state than a Jewish one and championed the Zubeidats’ cause in the courts, of intentionally causing provocations. “An Arab narrative exists that proclaims ‘we were not conquered, we did not desert,'” said Danny Ivri, a resident of the Misgav bloc community Yodfat. “They say ‘we were manipulated in various ways, such as through military rule and suppressing our development by placing Jewish communities between our own communities.”

Misgav bloc residents also fear increased tensions that could result from Arabs and Jews living in close proximity, and point at the occasional spurts of sectarian violence that break out in nearby non-Jewish towns between Muslims, Druze and Christians. “You can’t impose a demographic mix on us that will recreate the sort of friction between Muslims, Christians and Druze that exists in Maghar, Peki’in and Rameh,” Mayer said, referring to cities prone to periodic unrest. “High Court justices don’t understand what it’s like to live in a small community which was founded with great hardships, a community which is trying to hold on to a certain way of life.”

A few weeks ago a ceremony was held in Yuvalim, the largest town in the Misgav bloc, which exemplified its inveterate ties to the state of Israel. The regional council unveiled a promenade in memory of slain Israel Defense Forces soldier Arbel Reich, whose father was among Yuvalim’s founders.

“It was an emotional ceremony,” recalled regional council head Ron Shani. “This event was part of the community’s narrative, part of its spirit, just like the fact that we educate our children to serve in combat units. That’s what it’s like here and we’re proud of that.

“A resident who wishes to join Yuvalim will have to feel comfortable at such a ceremony, and if not he can go elsewhere, where he wouldn’t be offended,” he said.

it is in this context of racism that it is worth watching writer alice walker’s three-part interview with anjali kamat of democracy now! while she was in gaza a couple of months ago. she compares the treatment of palestinians to african americans under legal jim crow segregation, which she fought against in the civil rights movement. the problem with this interview is that walker at once refuses to acknowledge palestinians’ right to armed resistance and is patronizing when she talks about the need for palestinians to take up non-violent resistance and at the same time when she is asked directly about the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement she does not commit to supporting that non-violent resistance strategy either.

it is also racism, of course, that created the savaging of gaza to begin with and that continues the siege that affects the 1.5 million palestinians living there. irin news is reporting yet again on the hurdles palestinians rebuilding must deal with:

In the face of the ongoing Israeli ban on imports of building materials Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are looking at new building methods, and one project is using clay and rubble.

Local Palestinian NGO Mercy Association for Children began building a school for handicapped children in Gaza City on 24 May to test a recently developed method using clay blocks, salt and rubble – with the source material coming mainly from the hundreds of buildings demolished during the Israeli offensive (27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009).

Fourteen construction workers on the 5,000 square metre building site in the Shujayah neighbourhood of the city haul buckets of clay for moulding into large blocks from which the structure, with its domed ceiling, will be made.

“If the school, upon completion, proves structurally sound we will move forward with other construction projects in Gaza,” said lead engineer Maher Batroukh of the Mercy Association for Children. “The school is the first building of its kind in Gaza.”

The three-storey school, occupying about 1,025 square metres, will contain no steel, cement or concrete, said Batroukh.

here is an idea of what these new mud-brick homes look like–they are just amazing looking and so much more practical in terms of climate and available materials than ordinary homes here:

sub-contracting occupations

hopeinafghanistan5

i find it disturbing that there are people who seem to think that there was something new or who were impressed by obama’s speech because he used the word “occupation.” here is the paragraph in which obama used that word:

On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people – Muslims and Christians – have suffered in pursuit of a homeland. For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead. They endure the daily humiliations – large and small – that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own. For decades, there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive.

the word i want to hear him utter is “nakba.” i want him to acknowledge the root of the problem and the only roadmap that will fix it, united nations resolution 194 that mandates palestinian refugees have a right to return to their land under international law. i find it increasingly problematic to use the word “occupation” because the word automatically signals the false notion that only land stolen by the zionist entity 42 years ago is “occupied.” but the entirety of palestine is occupied. is colonized. not just what is called the west bank and gaza strip. there is little difference between those zionist colonizers who occupy palestinian land whether in haifa or in khalil. and no the two people do not have equal legitimate aspirations.

there was an interesting debate on the speech on the pbs newshour, surprisingly enough, that featured abderrahim foukara from al jazeera, as’ad abukhalil, rami khoury, and some woman named sumaya hamdani whose reading of the speech was rightfully critiqued by the other panelists. this discussion was far more sophisticated and specific than anything i heard on al jazeera english because unlike al jazeera english, the newshour seemed to not make it a priority to find arabs and muslims who were salivating over the speech. you can also hear two good interviews nora barrows-friedman did with ali abunimah and robert knight with sami husseini yesterday on flashpoints that put the speech into its proper context.

helena cobban interviewed hamas leader khaled mesh’al yesterday for ips news in which mesh’al rightly states that palestinians want to see actions not words:

“We need two things from Obama, Mitchell, the Quartet, and the rest of the international community. Firstly, pressure on Israel to acknowledge and grant these rights. The obstacle to this is completely on the Israeli side. Secondly, we need the international actors to refrain from intervening in internal Palestinian affairs. You should leave it to the Palestinians to resolve our differences peacefully. You should respect Palestinian democracy and its results,” he said.

This latter was a reference to the hard-hitting campaign that Israel, the U.S. and its allies have maintained against Hamas ever since its candidates won a strong victory in the Palestinian Authority (PA)’s parliamentary elections in January 2006.

That campaign has included sustained efforts to delegitimise the Hamas-led government that emerged from the elections, attempts by Israel to assassinate the government’s leaders, including during Israel’s recent assault on Gaza, and the mission that U.S. Lt. Gen. Keith Dayton has led in the West Bank to arm and train an anti-Hamas fighting force loyal to the U.S.-supported Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.

In his reaction to Obama’s speech, Meshaal referred to the U.S.’s role in this intervention, saying, “Rather than sweet words from President Obama on democratisation, we’d rather see the United States start to respect the results of democratic elections that have already been held. And rather than talk about democratisation and human rights in the Arab world, we’d rather see the removal of Gen. Dayton, who’s building a police state there in the West Bank.”

this issue of american-zionist forces collaborating with the palestinian authority came to a head yesterday as obama delivered his speech. ghassan bannoura reported the events as follows for imemc:

Four Palestinians were reported dead and numbers injured as Palestinian security forces announced that clashes with Hamas fighters ended in the northern West Bank city of Qalqilia on Thursday midday.

The clashes started early morning and lasted till midday, The security forces and the gunmen exchanged fire after the gunmen opened fire at a vehicle that belongs to the Palestinian security forces, officials reported.

A security official in Qalqilia stated that the Hamas fighters hurled a grenade at the security patrol killing one officer and wounding several others. The security forces surrounded a building where three fighters of Hamas barracked themselves. Witnesses speaking under conditions of immunity told IMEMC that security forces stormed the building after heavy exchange of fire and found the three fighters dead.

Tension was high in Qalqilia since the start of the week. On Sunday a group of Hamas fighters clashed with the Fatah controlled security forces in the city. The clash left two fighters, one civilian and three security officers dead.

Meanwhile Fatah security forces in the West Bank and Hamas forces in Gaza arrested members of each other’s factions all week.

here is some footage from the associated press of the gun battle yesterday in qalqilia:

nora barrows-friedman’s interview with diana buttu the other day reveals the important details about these events and its relationship to larger concerns among palestinians more generally. here is nora’s post on her blog and below that is a partial transcript that i typed up from the interview.

Listen to my interview with former PLO advisor Diana Buttu earlier this week about the Palestinian Authority’s moves to:

1) accept “counter-terrorism” training from a US military colonialist-orientalist, Lt. Keith Dayton;

2) use that training to turn against Palestinians trying to resist the illegal occupation and apartheid regime of Israel;

3) further fractionalizing any national unity coalition to fight occupation and subjugation by Israel and the US.

here is a partial transcript of the interview with some revealing and insightful analysis and questioning (the link below is to the actual interview, which i highly recommend listening to):

Nora Barrows Friedman: …The PA placed the entire city of Qalqilia under curfew, which is reminiscent of Israeli tactics as they did their search and seizure mission. Can you give us your assessment of this in the current climate of the Occupied West Bank at this point?

Diana Buttu: Certainly, one of the interesting things about this case is that one of the individuals with Hamas who ended up being killed is somebody who was being sought after by the Israelis and who had gone under cover for a period of nearly 7 years. Rather than–so the irony is that instead of Israel person, the body that assassinates, it ended up that it’s the Palestinian Authority that has killed this man. And so it points to the direction that the Palestinian Authority is heading into: that is being the security sub-contractor to the Israeli Occupation.

NBF: And this also comes just three days after Israel assassinated another Hamas leader, Abed Al-Majid Dudin, in the southern West Bank city of Hebron. You know, let’s talk about the timing of all of this. The PA security services have been ramping up their suppression of the civilian population, within the West Bank, and more and more Palestinian civilians are unimpressed, you could say, with the PA’s involvement with the Israeli government and the United States. You know, after this meeting with Obama, what’s the significance really of the timing of all of this under the Abbas leadership?

DB: It’s very significant. The significance of it is that President Abbas wants to demonstrate to the Americans that he is the address, particularly since his mandate expired in January 2009. And the only way he can demonstrate he is the address is–and Salam Fayyad being the prime minister who has now twice been appointed and not been confirmed by the PLC–the only way that they can that is by showing that they can take control of security. In other words, it’s become very clear that the equation is that the Palestinian Authority has to crack down on Hamas and demonstrate that it can actually take control and take charge of security in the West Bank. And in exchange for that there may, perhaps, be some pressure brought to bear on Israel–not to dismantle settlements, but just to simply freeze settlements. It’s becoming clear that this is the equation. Especially in light of the fact that President Abbas’ mandate expired in January of this year.

NBF: Diana, let’s talk also about the training of the PA services by the U.S. contra-style military commander Lieutenant Keith Dayton. Dayton has been employed in the West Bank for a couple of years. His contract was just renewed for another two years. And he’s been tasked to train Palestinian Authority forces in so-called “counter-terrorism tactics,” not against the illegal israeli occupiers, but against their own people in the Hamas movement. What are your thoughts on the appointment and employment of Dayton?

DB: Well this is, again, part of the long-term strategy and the long-term thinking when it comes to this region. Nobody–and certainly not the United States–they do not recognize that this is an occupation. They do not realize that this is a political issue that has some security ramifications. But instead they view it as a lack of security and security only, thinking that this is a security problem and that if we address the security side of things, in other words, approach Israel’s security first, then somehow the political ducks will line themselves up. But that’s clearly not been–that’s proven to be false in the past and, of course, it will be proven to be false in the future. What’s interesting about Dayton and the forces that he’s been training in the West Bank is that when Dayton thought to give his first interview to an Israeli paper, one of the key sentences and one of the messages that he sent to the Israelis was the following: what they were doing is that they were training the Palestinian Authority forces not to combat Israel’s occupation or even to resist Israel’s occupation, but instead they were training the security forces to undermine those very individuals who at any point in time believe that it is alright to resist Israel’s military occupation. In other words: pit Palestinian against Palestinian rather than ensure that the Palestinians are able to resist Israel’s military rule.

NBF: And, Diana, how does this kind of Iran-contra style tactic play out in the Palestinian street?. How are Palestinians looking at what’s going on here?

DB: Well Palestinians are looking at it with a lot of horror and a lot of disgust. I actually remember 15 years ago, when the Palestinian Authority first came into the area. This is an Authority that was greeted with candy, with flowers, people were throwing rice–with a lot of jubilation thinking that somehow there was going to be a Palestinian presence, a Palestinian entity that was going to rule over their lives rather than being an Israeli entity, an Israeli force. You have to contrast that with the demonstration that happened yesterday where people were cursing the Palestinian Authority. People were chanting slogans against the Palestinian Authority–the same slogans that Palestinians once chanted against Israeli Occupation Forces. So you can see the connection that is being made, that people are making between Israel’s occupying forces soldiers and those of the Palestinian Authority. And unless this equation gets broken somehow, unless the Palestinian Authority re-gears itself or re-directs itself, which I don’t think is likely, then you’re going to see a much higher level of cynicism along with much more acts of a police state, which the West Bank is now turning into being.

perhaps it is in this context that you can see why some palestinians call the palestinian authority collaborationist. for instance the palestinian information center reported that the zionist entity is rather pleased with its subcontracted army here in the west bank:

The Israeli occupation authority has expressed extreme satisfaction at the success of Abbas’s security men in assassinating Qassam resistance fighters wanted by the IOF for a number of years.

Occupation military sources described the assassination of Muhammad Atteya and Eyad al-Abtali and the wounding of Ala’ Deyab in the city of Qalqilya as an important operation carried out successfully by Abbas’s security men, especially that this operation comes only two days after the assassination of Qassam commander Muhammad al-Samman and his assistant Muhammd Yassin after a 6-year pursuit by the IOF.

The Israeli occupation army radio said that Abbas’s forces besieged the hiding place of the Qassam fighters, which was in the cellar of a house, and when they failed to make them surrender they poured large quantities of water into the cellar drowning two of them and wounding and arresting the third.

it should come as no surprise, then, that resistance is now promising to turn its guns on the collaborationist authority as imemc reports:

The Al Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, issued a statement on Thursday calling on all fighters in the West Bank to defend themselves against the security forces of president Mahmoud Abbas, the same way the fighters counter the Israeli occupation.

In a press conference in Gaza, Abu Obaida, spokesperson of the Al Qassam, said that the brigades will prevail in the West Bank “in spite of the aggression of the occupation and its tails”, and that if the security forces think that the Al Qassam is vanishing in the West Bank, “they should know we are here, and here we will prevail, God willing”.

He added that the Brigades considers the security forces of Abbas as “outlawed militias, that violate the morals of the people and the country”, and added that “the only way to deal with them is by resistance; we call on our fighters to fight the gangs of Abbas the same way they fight the occupation”.

He held Abbas and his Prime Minister, Dr. Salaam Fayyad, responsible for the events in Qalqilia, and added that “no talks or future agreements would pardon them or grant them security”.

in spite of all this kenneth bazinet reported in the daily news that obama had to send out an email assuring american jews that he still supports the zionist entity in all its destruction and war crimes that they commit on a daily basis with the help of the palestinian authority and the united states:

The White House tried to ease Israeli concerns over President Obama’s fence-mending speech Thursday to the Muslim world, insisting he remains loyal to the strong U.S. relationship with the Jewish state.

In an e-mail sent to some Jewish groups and the U.S.-based lobby for Israel, the White House insisted Obama’s outreach to the mainstream Muslim majority is no threat to relations with its key Mideast ally.

“The President’s commitment to Israel’s security is as firm as ever, which he has emphasized many times,” the e-mail said.

it seems that they do need reassuring because all one needs to do is take one look at joseph dana and max blumenthal’s video of zionist terrorist colonists in al quds last night after the speech (one view of this video and you’ll see what i mean by terrorists):

oddly enough, in spite of all the racist ranting in the above video, there is a newish restaurant i pass by in between beit lahem and al quds just before you reach the old city that seems to pay homage to the new american president:

zionist terrorist colonist pizza restaurant in al quds
zionist terrorist colonist pizza restaurant in al quds

and today a brand new colony is being built on palestinian land named after barack obama:

Israeli settlers established a new illegal West Bank outpost on Thursday, dedicating it partly to US President Barack Obama.

The settlers, calling themselves the “Land of Israel Loyalists,” named the outpost Oz Yehonatan, near Binyamin, but were calling part of it the “Obama Hut,” according to the Israeli news agency Ynet.

And according to a report from Israel’s Arutz Sheva news agency, the outpost was named “in recognition of the president’s actions, which have led to a dramatic increase in the number of outposts being built throughout Judea and Samaria [the West Bank].”

of course in spite of what those zio-nazis say in the above video, the united states, and obama are firmly supporting only jewish suffering and a jewish state. obama confirmed this today when instead of traveling to nearby gaza to see the damage created by american weapons in the hands of the israeli terrorist army he chose to look back and history to see what europeans did to jews, and in his comments there he reinforced the deeply flawed logic that palestinians should pay the price for european sins as mark smith reported in the star tribune:

President Barack Obama witnessed the Nazi ovens of the Buchenwald concentration camp Friday, its clock tower frozen at the time of liberation, and said the leaders of today must not rest against the spread of evil.

The president called the camp where an estimated 56,000 people died the “ultimate rebuke” to Holocaust deniers and skeptics. And he bluntly challenged one of them, Iranian President Ahmadinejad, to visit Buchenwald.

“These sites have not lost their horror with the passage of time,” Obama said after seeing crematory ovens, barbed-wire fences, guard towers and the clock set at 3:15, marking the camp’s liberation in the afternoon of April 11, 1945. “More than half a century later, our grief and our outrage over what happened have not diminished.”

Buchenwald “teaches us that we must be ever-vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others’ suffering is not our problem, and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests,” Obama said.

He also said he saw, reflected in the horrors, Israel’s capacity to empathize with the suffering of others, which he said gave him hope Israel and the Palestinians can achieving a lasting peace.

this point of view is why most people in this region will never believe the rhetoric coming out of the united states even if the president’s middle name is hussein. zeina khodr’s report for al jazeera on the afghan response to obama’s speech is indicative of this sentiment:

egyptian blogger hossam el hamalawy also spoke out against the obama speech eloquently in an interview with al jazeera’s james bays, although there is some vapid woman sitting next to him who i wish would shut up to enable hossam to have more time to explain his important points:

and natalie abou shakra kindly translated khaled saghiyyeh’s article in al akhbar today on the speech:

People, let’s hear it out for Mr Obama who has just recognized Islam as a religion! Not only so, but he also recited Koranic passages at his University of Cairo speech!

And we, the “colonized” overwhelmed by permissiveness, did not stop clapping every time we heard a sura recited in English. But, frankly, despite this harmonious wonder between cultures and religions, it is worthy to note that the problem with the American administration was never cultural to begin with, and has not been merely a difference in political perspectives.

The difference lies in the bloodshed of hundreds of thousands that were killed in Lebanon, Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan…. either by American-made weapons, American support, or by Americans themselves as is the case with war on Iraq for the so-called struggle for democracy, and the war on Lebanon as a passage to a New Middle East.

However, there’s no use crying over spilt milk, for Mr. Obama has thus spoken and has asked us to start over a new beginning. Simply, in a snap of his fingers he asks us to put aside all that without the need for an apology to the victims of these wars. We do not mean to waste the precious time of this new emperor, but is he asking us to be his partners? And, are we supposed to believe him? But, wait a minute… we have a lot to learn from our “big brother.” Not only shall he impose on us his democracy, but also imposed on us what he thinks of human rights… O, Mr. Obama, thank you for reshaping the etiquette.

More so, as the first step to this new recipe, Obama asks of the Lebanese Maronites to look onto themselves as minorities, just as the Copts, and he shall be the one who will defend their rights. As for “Hamas”, who was democratically elected by the way, he thinks they “represent, maybe, some of the Palestinians.” And based on his account of human rights, he emphasized the wrongness of the “violent” resistance. And what is the alternative? The same old talk about the two-state solution and the road map in Palestine, completely ignoring the right of return and the issue of the refugees. As for Iran, it should [according to Obama] abandon its nuclear dreams in the purpose of preventing an arms race in the Middle East- as if Iran was the one who begun the race! Hello Mr. Obama!!

Imperialism did not always come in the form of violent speeches. But, rather, it usually came in with a stronger sense of allure. Well, it seems that “development” rates will hit the ceilings again. Prepare yourselves for more bloodshed and victims to fall… this time in the name of humanity and progress.

and for those readers questioning me yesterday when i doubted the sincereity of obama in reference to his promises about iraq and guantanamo, just click on these recent news stories by jeremy scahill and you will start to understand what i mean:

IN FOCUS: “Little Known Military Thug Squad Still Brutalizing Prisoners at Gitmo Under Obama” (AlterNet): The ‘Black Shirts’ of Guantanamo routinely terrorize prisoners, breaking bones, gouging eyes, squeezing testicles, and ‘dousing’ them with chemicals.

WORLD VIEW: UN Human Rights Council Blasts US for Killing Civilians, Drone Attacks and Using Mercenaries: The UN group is also calling on the US to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate crimes by US officials.

HMMM: Obama Wants $736 Million Colonial Fortress in Pakistan: Critics say the White House wants to use the new “embassy” for “pushing the American agenda in Central Asia.”

SAY WHAT??: Mastercard-istan: Ex-Bush Henchman Wants to be “CEO of Afghanistan” (Literally): Obama may allow famed neocon Zalmay Khalilzad to become the unelected shadow leader of Afghanistan to “push American interests.”

and as for obama and all his words of supporting muslims in the united states one only needs to remember the holy land 5, most recently, or check out this story by cath turner on al jazeera about an egyptian man, youssef megahed, who was found innocent of “terrorism” charges, but who is still being targeted by the american authorities:

welcome to amrika and its empire. oh, and by the way, check out this article on the bbc yesterday that wrote up a piece on those tweeting about obama’s speech. my tweets seemed to have made it onto their radar screen:

Mr Obama also came in for some sharp comments on his treatment of democracy: “How about Mubarak and his ruthless suppressing the rights of others?” tweeted Marcy Newman, who describes herself as a teacher, writer and activist in Palestine.

And “Obama does this mean you will be recognizing Hamas given they were democratically elected?”

colonial complicity

today nablus has been declared a closed military zone as saed bannoura reported in imemc:

In an attempt to prevent Israeli peace activists from entering the Nablus area, the head of the Central Command of the Israeli Army, Gadi Shamni, declared Nablus a closed military zone.

The army said that that there had been several complaints by the soldiers against members of the Machsom Watch (Checkpoint Watch) organization.

The army added that this decision applies to all Israeli citizens regardless of their ideology.

The decision was slammed by the Human Rights Organization “Yish Din”. The group said that only totalitarian countries bar human rights organizations from entering areas of conflict between the military and the civilian population.

The group added that such acts are meant to cover-up “criminal activities carried out by the soldiers at the roadblocks”, and added that “it won’t be surprised of Israel starts acting like China, by barring certain internet sites”.

what this means is that security in the prison that is nablus is even tighter than normal and travel in and out of nablus is going to be even more challenging than it already is on a daily basis. of course it is beyond ironic that it is palestinians in nablus being locked up when the terrorizing israeli colonists are on the loose and actively attacking innocent palestinians as saed bannoura reported earlier this week:

Palestinian sources reported on Monday morning that four Palestinians were wounded, one seriously, after being attacked by a group of extremist settlers at the Kidumim junction on the Nablus – Qalqilia road.

Ghassan Daghlas, in charge of the settlements file at the Palestinian Authority, stated that approximately at 5:30 a.m. the four Palestinians were on their way to work when they were attacked by a group of extremist Israeli settlers.

Palestinian medical sources stated that resident Ali Al Sidda, 44, from Jeet village near Nablus, was seriously wounded in his head and was moved to Al Arabi Specialized Hospital in Nablus.

Resident Mohammad Khalid, 32, suffered moderate wounds, while residents Shaker Sidda, and Ahmad Sidda suffered minor wounds. All are from Jayyous village near Qalqilia.

Daghlas demanded the international community and international human rights groups to intervene and put an end to the ongoing attacks carried out by the settlers and the solders.

it seems as if they are following the orders of american jewish rabbi manis friedman, in st. paul minnesota, calling on jewish colonists in palestine to murder with impunity:

“I don’t believe in western morality, i.e. don’t kill civilians or children, don’t destroy holy sites, don’t fight during holiday seasons, don’t bomb cemeteries, don’t shoot until they shoot first because it is immoral. The only way to fight a moral war is the Jewish way: Destroy their holy sites. Kill men, women and children (and cattle).”

yet another one of friedman’s likely pupils of terrorism unleashed his wrath in al quds yesterday–of course this will never be named terrorism by the zionist or international media, though its effect is the same and is in line with such zionist acts through the course of its colonizing history:

An Israeli settler shot and killed one Palestinian, on Tuesday at dawn, and seriously wounded a Jewish man near the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem. The Israeli police described the attack as a “random shooting spree”.

while palestinians are imprisoned in nablus, this week israeli terrorist colonists have been busy destroying palestinian farm land in the farmland surrounding the city as palestine news network reported:

Mohammad Raja from the southern Nablus town of Burin sleeps on his land.

Planted with grain, Raja, or Abu Amar, is protecting his harvest.

However, at 2:30 am fire engines rushed to his defense. Israelis from the Itshar Settlement, built in the West Bank in contravention to international law, attacked the fields.

Itshar Settlement is routinely in the news as one of the most violent of Israeli settlements.

Fire fighters were able to save some of Abu Amar’s harvest, the rest of which was destroyed in the fire set by Itshar settlers.

“They have set fire to my home and land over the past three days, leading to total destruction. The barley is gone and with it the cattle feed,” said Abu Amar.

On the same day Israeli settlers attacked the citizens of the town Aurev in southern Nablus. Palestinians were working on their land not far from the center of town when a group of settlers rushed in. “We were attacked,” a farmer named Ghassan said. These assaults come after repeated attacks on southern Nablus.

Yitzhar is another settlement imposed on the Nablus Governorate in the northern West Bank known as strongholds of extremist settlers who launch these attacks under the protection of the occupying Israeli army.

After the fires on Abu Amar’s land settlers then torched crops in Burin just 12 hours later. “Dozens of dunams of barley crops planted in the eastern region of the town were burned,” the head of the Burin town council said.

Last year Israeli settlers burned 3,500 olive trees belonging to the same town.

Khaled Mansour is with the Public Action Committee of Agricultural Relief and said, “The burning of crops, the destruction of crops, the uprooting of trees and the attacks on famers are familiar behavior and are an organized policy each season.”

Not only do Israeli settlers target Palestinian plants and crops for the summer, but also employ a similar policy in the late fall’s olive harvest. Mansour said in a statement to the press today that such a strategy is used by the Israeli administration to force Palestinians to flee their land and send them to work in settlement factories.

of course, nablus is not the only village subjected to israeli terrorist colonialism. in the southern west bank, too, palestinian farmers and farmland is also under attack as katherine orwell reported for imemc:

Villagers from the Southern West Bank village of Safa, north of Hebron, have tried to harvest their lands that are located closely to the settlement of Beit Ayn, on Saturday morning. The Israeli army violently pushed the villagers of their lands, as settlers were gathering on near by hilltops. Later in the morning settlers came down and attacked a group of women and children, a local witness reported to IMEMC.

A group of internationals and Israelis went along with the villagers to help harvest the land. In the past few weeks there have continuously been problems with the army and settlers from the settlement of Beit Ayn, preventing the people of Safa to access and harvest their land.

During this time of year the people in Safa harvest the grape leaves, an important source of income for the village.

After the harvest started, the army arrived and ordered everyone to leave the lands, as they claimed the land, belonging to the Soleiby family, to be a closed military zone. The army gave the harvesters a ten minutes notice, then proceeded to push the group out by kicking and beating them. Two Israelis, that had joined the harvest, were arrested and taken away by the army.

The army told the people that the settlers were gathering and they were afraid that there might be problems. People in the group responded that the army had to take its responsibility and remove the ones creating the problems, not the ones suffering from it.

Instead soldiers turned up with batons, literally pushing the people off the land with their sticks.

During all that time settlers were watching on top of the hill, screaming racist slogans, such as: “Death to all the Arabs”. After some time the settlers came down the hill into the fields that belong to the village and started throwing stones. A group of 16 settlers attacked three old women and one child that were harvesting the grape leaves. Other settlers took the camera of an Israeli.

you can see some of the aftermath of this rampage on palestine video’s blog where there is afp video footage of this attack.

it is amidst this sort of zionist colonist terrorism that the words of some of these colonists are calling the u.s. terrorists, albeit ironically in this context, for asking the zionist colonial project to “freeze” its settlement expansion:

Israeli settler leaders accused the United Sates of “terrorism” on Monday because of calls for a freeze on construction in West Bank colonies.

“The Americans are employing political terrorism against the State of Israel,” said Danny Dayan, chairman of the Yesha Council settler organization, according to the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot.

“Not only is the Obama administration renouncing the commitments made by President George W. Bush in April 2004 – it’s looking as if they regret President Truman’s decision on May 14th 1948 to recognize Israel’s independence.”

In an interview with National Public Radio on Monday, Obama reiterated his view that settlement construction should come to a complete stop. “Part of being a good friend is being honest,” Obama said.

of course it does not matter what the u.s. says, as long as american taxpayers continue to fund these colonies full of terrorist colonists they will continue to destroy palestinian land, homes, and people. today there is a new structure to be built in wadi joz on the land where there is now a palestinian kindergarten:

Israeli authorities approved plans on Tuesday to demolish an East Jerusalem kindergarten and wholesale market in order to make way for a hotel and commercial center.

The plan for the hotel, in the Wadi Joz neighborhood near the Old City, was given a green light by the Jerusalem planning and building committee, which submitted the proposal for public comment, according to the newspaper Haaretz.

the zionist colonists will continue to build illegal colonies as they please as they always have. but they will also continue with their rhetoric about promises and laws when it suits them as donald macintyre reports for the independent about netanyahu’s latest claims:

The Israeli government of Benjmain Netanyahu is seeking to deflect Washington’s demand for a total settlement freeze by complaining that it ignores secret agreements between his predecessors and the Bush administration that construction in existing Jewish settlements could continue.

The rift between Mr Netanyahu’s government and the US appeared to deepen yesterday, with a clear declaration by President Barack Obama that a freeze – including on “natural growth” of West Bank settlements – was among Israeli “obligations”.

there is an interesting documentary on al jazeera’s “people and power” this week called “courtroom intifada” that addresses so many of these issues. juliana ruhfus travels to the palestinian village of bil’in where she shows us the on-going, four-year long struggle of the people in this village have been engaged in as the zionist terrorist colony of modi’in ilit continues to confiscate bil’in’s land. ruhfus takes you on a tour of their weekly protests and their land with mohammad khatib and his mother zahia khatib where an apartheid wall, here in the form of an electronic fence, separates zahia from her 1,000 year old olive trees. she takes you through the zionist terrorist colony where about 41,000 of them live; she takes you there with an israeli colonist named nir shalev who seems to think that before 1967 bil’in was jordan (yes, it was controlled by the hashemite regime, but this land never belonged to jordan). you’ll also see the israeli colonist who is helping people in bil’in with a court case that challenges the corporations profiting from the building of this colony.

the video packs in quite a bit. bottom line, as is made clear in ruhfus’ interviews: these are war crimes. the colonists, the corporations, and the governments funding this will one day receive retribution.

max bluementhal reported on more american complicity in zionist terrorist colonialism this week on the mondoweiss blog showing an american casino in hawaiian gardens (los angeles) that funds these zionist terrorist colonialist activities. here is his report and the video accompanying it, though i continue to have issues with the fact that mondoweiss thinks that 1948 palestine is an entity called “israel.” i, of course, refuse to acknowledge that it has a right to exist on stolen palestinian land. colonies are colonies, period.

A gathering of the settlement movement’s leading figures in Jerusalem on May 22, documented in this exclusive Mondoweiss report, revealed the unprecedented influence of the settlers on Israeli policy. The event, a ceremony for the presentation of the Moskowitz Foundation Prize for Zionism, was organized and bankrolled by one of Netanyahu’s closest confidants and backers, the American casino tycoon Irving Moskowitz. For over a decade, Moskowitz has funneled millions in profits from his California-based Hawaiian Gardens casino, where he has been sued for exploiting undocumented workers, into settlement construction projects in the West Bank, including Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem. He has also funded several neoconservative think tanks including a research center named after Netanyahu’s brother, Yonatan, who was killed while leading the Entebbe rescue raid in 1976. Moskowitz and Netanyahu have remained close since he established the center.

In 1996, Moskowitz convinced Netanyahu, in his first round as prime minister, to open a tunnel adjacent to the Temple Mount, a controversial act that led to several days of rioting and 70 deaths. Four years later, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s provocative visit to the tunnel set off the so-called Al-Aqsa uprising, the opening salvo of the Second Intifada. Now, Moskowitz’s imprint on the West Bank’s landscape is most clearly reflected in the expansion of the settlement called Kiryat Arba, a hotbed of Orthodox Jewish radicalism located high above the occupied city of Hebron.

Kiryat Arba founder Noam Arnon is the recipient of the 2009 Moskowitz Prize, an honor that included $50,000 in cash. After receiving his prize before a cheering crowd of two thousand settlers, Arnon complained to me, “We think that somehow the Arabs have taken over the international media and the international mood, and they convinced the world to believe that there is a Palestinian people and these people deserve to have a Palestinian state — which is totally untrue.”

Despite the fanaticism of Arnon and his followers, who routinely rampage through Hebron, vandalizing Palestinian homes and attacking local residents (often under the watch of the Israeli army), they are not isolated as a rogue element in Netanyahu’s political world. Indeed, several of notables stood on stage to present Arnon with his prize. They included Professor Moshe Aumann, who won the Nobel Prize in 2005 for his work on understanding conflict through game theory, and Uzi Landau, the Israeli Minister of National Infrastructure. (Landau’s party, Yisrael Beiteynu, has introduced bills that would compel Arab citizens of Israel to take loyalty oaths and which would criminalize open discussion of what the Palestinians call “Nakbah,” or “catastrophe” of Israel’s founding). Also in attendance was Benny Begin, a leading Likud member of Knesset and the son of the late Prime Minister Menachem Begin, the first Likud prime minister.

After the ceremony, Landau mingled easily with settlement leaders, who beseeched him for support. Though Landau’s bodyguard attempted to prevent journalists from approaching him, my journalistic colleague Jesse Rosenfeld managed to ask him about Obama’s call for freeze on settlement construction. Visibly irritated by the mention of Obama’s demand, Landau issued an unequivocal statement. “Those who say, or are trying to suggest that Arabs can build anywhere and everywhere, and Jews can’t –it’s something that should be totally rejected.”

Since arriving in Israel, I have observed the battle over settlement expansion from an on-the-ground perspective. On May 16, I traveled with the Israeli peace group Ta’ayush to Hilltop 26, an illegal hilltop outpost constructed by settlers from Kiryat Arba – not an aspect of “natural growth.” Four angry settler youths confronted us upon our arrival; within minutes, a squadron of Israeli border police officers, soldiers and a Kiryat Arba security team were on the scene. The army swiftly issued a “closed military zone order,” ordering us to leave within five minutes or be arrested. While the soldiers initially allowed the settler youth to stay, the presence of international media apparently prompted them to briefly remove the teenagers while allowing their outpost to remain – an act that underscored the army’s collaboration with settlers to stifle the activities of peace groups. (See the confrontation in my exclusive Daily Beast video report here.)

if you saw my photographs from khalil the other day you would know that this zionist terrorist colonist speaking in the video–responsible for the attacks on palestinians and their homes–including setting fire to them–that he and his cohorts are clearly terrorists. and yet in this video notice how he says, “we are the most moderate people.” yes, perhaps, but in my book moderate has become the new dirty word.

turning point 3

i’m wondering what the first two turning points were. the last few days i’ve heard war games in the sky above beit lahem. all day long i’ve heard ominous war planes testing out the zionist entity’s doomsday scenario. here is an al jazeera report on the “defense” strategy it is testing, though for those of us here we know better; this is clearly a test for its next offensive strike:

Turning Point 3 comes just two weeks after the Israeli air force wrapped up a four-day exercise testing its ability to defend against strikes from Syria and Iran.

Israel believes Iran is developing nuclear weapons and has not ruled out a military strike on the country in response.

Iran says its nuclear programme is only for energy production.

Jacky Rowland, Al Jazeera’s Jerusalem correspondent, said that while Israel claims that the drill has “no special significance”, it is likely to be seen in the context of “Israel’s sabre-rattling towards Iran and also towards other neighbouring Arab countries”.

“It was only a couple of weeks ago that Prime Minister [Binyamin] Netanyahu was in Washington and he was really pushing the question of Iran and its perceived nuclear threat really to the top of the agenda of his talks with President [Barack] Obama,” she said.

“So, although Israel is saying that this is a defensive drill and it is really practising its ability to defend its civilians against attack from outside, inevitably it has to be interpreted by Israel’s Arab neighbours – and indeed the Palestinians of Gaza and the West Bank – as a warning, a not so subtle warning of Israel’s offensive capacities to strike should these circumstances arise.”

al jazeera’s “inside story” with kamahl santamaria had a discussion of this series of tests this week and its effect on the various regional players who will be subjected to these weapons in the zionist entity’s next attack:

of course any such impending war must be understood as a joint u.s.-zionist war on the palestinians, lebanese, syrians, iranians in the region given that the obama administration promises to continue funding and supplying the zionist terrorist army as saed bannoura reports:

Robert Wood, US State Department deputy spokesperson, stated Monday that he would not comment on the Times report regarding intentions of the Obama administration to condition its support to Israel with freezing the settlements, but added that the US would maintain its support to Israel in the United Nations.

Wood stated that President Barack Obama and his administration are clear in their stance that all parties involved in the Middle East Peace Process should maintain their obligations to ensure successful peace talks.

He also said that the United States has long worked to ensure that Israel receives what he described as “fair treatment” in the United Nations, and that his country will continue doing so.

Wood further said that Israel is a close friend and ally to the United States, and that the US will remain committed to Israel’s security.

ghassan bannoura reported that there were war sirens going off in 1948 palestine, although here in beit sahour we can only hear the planes overhead. while the zionist entity maintains that this is about “defense” there are many of us who see this as aggression:

According to the Israeli military, the training exercise is meant to prepare the Israeli military and the entire population for a regional war. Sergio Yanni, an Israeli political analyst, told IMEMC the exercise is aimed for butting Israelis in a state of fear.

“The People In Israel after the war in Lebanon and in Gaza don’t buy so much anymore the question that there is a real threat on Israel, there is a big discussion over how much the army should be budgeted, the objective of this drill is for internal propaganda to make people feel that Israel is in a situation of war, we can’t exclude a possible attack on Lebanon or Gaza in the near future this is a permanent question.” Sergio Yanni said.

The exercise comes in the midst of increasing Israeli rhetoric against Iran, and a statement just last week by the Israeli military that the Lebanese Hezbollah group now has possession of more rockets than it did before the 2006 war- although that statement was not backed up with any evidence.

The drill also includes training in how to repress the Palestinian population in the West Bank, Gaza and inside Israel during the three-front scenario. Faouzi Barhum, spokesman of the ruling Hamas party in Gaza told IMEMC via phone that the exercise is a form of attack.

“At first this military exercise could be considered as an attack, because it is to show the military criminal machine that killed children in Gaza and Lebanon, those drills could become a war at any time, because we expect everything from the occupation, it is clear that the division and state of salience among the Arabs have encouraged the Zionist regime of doing this military exercise.” Barhum told IMEMC.

al jazeera reports how this is perceived by others in the region as the zionist entity rationalizes its desire for perpetual justification for war and aggression:

Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros, reporting from Beersheva, where some of the drills were taking place, said there has been criticism from rights groups inside Israel about the exercises.

“They say it is all part of the militarisation of Israeli society and a way to perpetuate the idea of an ongoing war and ongoing fight that Israel is carrying out against the rest of the world,” she said.

“This has been subject to a lot of criticism because it in some way justifies Israel’s brutal force and the security measures it takes against the Palestinians.”

Israel began its national drills in the aftermath of the July-August 2006 war with Hezbollah in Lebanon, which revealed major weaknesses in how Israel dealt with the rocket attacks on its territory.

This year’s exercise comes just days before Lebanon holds a closely-fought election that could see the Hezbollah-led opposition become the new government.

The drills will also coincide with a regional tour by Barack Obama, the US president.

Israel is under pressure from the US to accept a Palestinian state, but it has also voiced fears of a strong Hezbollah in Lebanon and a strong Hamas in Gaza.

Alastair Crooke, director of the Conflict Forum in Beirut, told Al Jazeera on Tuesday that there is a sense in the Arab world that Israel is looking toward the right for new solutions to its security concerns.

“It’s the sense of unwillingness for many Israeli leaders to see a Palestinian state pushed on it, at a time when Hamas is strong and when Hezbollah may be getting stronger, When America may be talking to Syria and talking to Iran at the same time,” he said.

“This leaves policy makers in Israel quite nervous and looking for ways to change the political paradigm in a way that will advance the Israeli sense of security.”

and, of course, given that the zionist entity is an apartheid regime, it is the colonists have access to bomb shelters and sirens; palestinians in 1948 palestine, for the most part, do not as saed bannoura reports:

A study conducted and released by the “Mubadarah” Israeli-Arab Rights group, revealed that 70% of the Arabs living in northern Israel do not have shelters or safe rooms, and the 25% of them do not have emergency sirens.

The reported also revealed that 80% of the Arab villages in Israel are not equipped to handle any crisis situation; this includes any sort of military escalation, missile strikes or even a natural disaster Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported.

Haaretz added that 75% of the residents of Nazareth, the largest Arab city in the country, have no access to private shelters, and the 99% of the residents of the Arava area do not have any access to shelters.

The report found that in many of the Arab communities included in the study, the safest places were schools, although they are not built to function as shelters.

It also revealed that in most of the mixed cities, where Arabs and Israelis live, Arab neighborhoods are not equipped to face emergency situations.

The study was conducted as Israel’s so-called Home Front Command of the Israeli military conducted a nation-wide week-long drill to test Israel’s readiness for war or catastrophe.

Part of the drill was testing 2300 sirens and also included requesting to citizens to hide in secure rooms for 10 minutes.

and, of course, it is not just the planning for its next war that is in our midst. it is the ongoing war, particularly the zionist terrorist army’s war against palestinians in gaza as saed bannoura reports about palestinian injuries today:

The Al Aqsa brigades, the armed wing of Fateh movement, reported that two of its fighters were wounded on Wednesday at dawn during clashes with Israeli forces near the Al Hawouz area, in the northern part of the Gaza Strip.

The brigades added that the two injured fighters were moved to a local hospital.

It stated that its fighters clashes with Israeli forces operating in northern Gaza, and added that the fighters will counter all Israeli assaults and will retaliate to “the ongoing Israeli crimes in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip”.

The brigades also claimed responsibility for firing thee RPG shells, on Tuesday evening, at a number of Israeli tanks located near the Gaza border.

it is not only palestinian people who are attacked with american-made weapons in the hands of zionist terrorist colonists. it is also palestinian land which is under attack, land which under normal circumstances would provide the food to sustain palestinian people in gaza. erin cunningham’s report in the christian science monitor on the ever-enlarging so-called “buffer zone” inside the gaza strip affects palestinian farmers from producing food and is a part of the on-going savaging of gaza:

Farmers and their families have been displaced, too afraid to return to their fields, while international humanitarian organizations are unable to make an assessment of the needs and damages of the area in the aftermath of the assault.

“We haven’t been able to visit this area. No organization has,” says Mohammed al-Shattali, project manager for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) in the Gaza Strip.

“The war increased the amount of land destroyed, particularly in the border areas, and the farmers can’t replant anything because it’s too dangerous,” he says. “The Israeli soldiers, they shoot at everything – dogs, sheep. They are very tense.”

An Israeli-imposed buffer zone in the already narrow enclave was established more than a decade ago to thwart attacks by Palestinian militants, who use the border areas to launch homemade rockets at Israeli towns or dig tunnels to carry out attacks against IDF troops stationed at the border.

But what was previously just a sliver of fortified land on the strip’s northern and eastern perimeters now, in the aftermath of Israel’s January offensive in the territory, swallows roughly 30 percent of Gaza’s arable farmland, according to the FAO.

It stretches as deep as 1.25 miles inside Gaza’s territory in the north and half a mile in the east, despite the 300-meter figure declared on the leaflets, the organization says. Gaza is just 25 miles long and slightly more than six miles wide.

you can see how this affects palestinian farmers on the blog farming under fire and here is a video encapsulating the experience of palestinians under attack by zionist terrorists every day:

but of course these war planes flying above our head, creating a kind of psychological terrorism for people living in palestine who have to hear this throughout the day, are not yet flying over our neighbors in lebanon and syria. nevertheless the fact that the last month or so has seen an extraordinary number of zionist spies in lebanon raises questions about things to come. al jazeera reported on more spies arrested this week:

Lebanon has charged four people with collaborating with Israel, raising to 23 the number of suspected spies who have been charged in the last few months, a court official has said.

Saqr Saqr, the military prosecutor charged the four men on Saturday with providing Israel with information about civilian and military positions and political figures.

General Jean Kahwaji, the Lebanese army commander, vowed to continue the crackdown against Israeli spies in a speech to troops on Saturday, Lebanon’s state news agency reported.

and now as ma’an news reports even an egyptian man has been arrested in lebanon because he has been helping his zionist colonist terrorist friends by spying on them in lebanon:

Lebanon has charged nine more people with spying for Israel, raising the number of formally accused collaborators to 35.

Lebanon’s National News Agency reported on Tuesday that military prosecutor Saqr Saqr charged the nine with collaboration and giving information to Israel about military and civilian installations and political figures, according to AP.

Separately, an Egyptian man and a Lebanese have been arrested for spying, security sources told AP.

practicing state terrorism

on monday ma’an news posted this item about

Israel will launch a nationwide military readiness drill next Sunday simulating an all-out regional war in addition to an uprising by Palestinians in the interior of the country.

The ominously-named “Turning Point 3″ exercise has alarmed Israel’s neighbors, who are concerned that it could be a cover for the start of an actual war. Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah said as much in an address he gave last week.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sought to reassure neighboring Arab states during a cabinet meeting on Sunday, saying “this is a routine drill, which was planned several months ago and is held every year in order to coordinate between civil and military systems,” according to the Ynet news agency.

The five-day exercise will simulate a war in Gaza that expands into an all-out regional conflict involving Hizbullah, Syria, and even a domestic uprising by Palestinians living in Israel.

The Israeli military will mobilize as if responding to these scenarios, and the political leadership will also rehearse their response.

The drill imagines a scenario in which, after 60 days of war on Gaza, including a ground offensive, Israel launches a war on Lebanon, provoking rioting in Israel and Palestinian attacks.

so war games will be played out in our midst in the coming week. i wonder why. apparently they are training for war with iran, which would, of course, entail a regional war. but make no mistake about it: iran is the zionist entity’s target as ha’aretz makes clear:

If Israel does not eliminate the Iranian threat, no one will, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday.

“Israel is not like other countries,” Netanyahu told his Likud faction in a meeting which came one week after his meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House. “We are faced with security challenges that no other country faces, and our need to provide a response to these is critical, and we are answering the call.”

“These are not regular times. The danger is hurtling toward us? The real danger in underestimating the threat,” Netanyahu said, addressing the threat of a nuclear-armed Iran. “My job is first and foremost to ensure the future of the state of Israel … the leadership’s job is to eliminate the danger. Who will eliminate it? It is us or no one.”

for some context on this war–and a good dose of zionist propaganda from one of the zionist entity’s most evil propagandists–watch this episode of “inside iraq” with jasim al azzawi on al jazeera. it features my friend sayyed mohammed marandi, phillis bennis, and zionist terrorist colonist ranaan gissen:

of particular note is the discussion on the zionist entity’s nuclear arsenal:

Bennis: First of all, I think you know, Ranaan, the statement from Ahmadinejad, of course, as we know, is not the commander in chief of the Iranian military, or in charge of the Iranian nuclear program, despite being the president. Unlike in this country he doesn’t control that. But he didn’t say he would wipe Israel off the face of the earth because as you know from Juan Cole and other of the leading scholars of Shi’a Islam and Iran, that’s not an idiom that exists in Persian. What they said, and I quote here, was “the regime of Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time. Maybe offensive to many, but it is certainly not a threat that deserves to be answered with a nuclear attack.”

Gissen: I didn’t say nuclear.

Bennis: You didn’t have to. When the U.S. has provided bunker-buster missiles to Israel to use against alleged, so far non-existent, nuclear weapons, we are talking about nuclear missiles going back and forth…..

Gissen: We don’t want a nuclear winter here in the Middle East. We live here. We live here in the Middle East. We’re the last nation on earth that wants to see nuclear weapons used in the Middle East. And our stated policy has always been, since Ben Gurion’s days, we are not going to be the first nation to introduce nuclear weapons into the Middle East.

Azzawi: Excuse me? Excuse me?

Gissen: According to some reports–yes we have–look, we have the–we have the technological capability, but we are the last one to use it. Because we want to live in the Middle East. We don’t want to die a collective death like some of the shaeeds in Iran and other places. We are a peace-loving nation. We are the solution, not the problem.

Bennis: Israel has already introduced nuclear weapons into the region. They are there. They have been produced. They are there. Thank God no one has used them. That’s why we need to get rid of all of them. Israel needs to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and agree to inspections.

Gissen: Why? Why?

Bennis: Because no one should have nuclear weapons. The United States is the biggest violator of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. It should set the example….

but there is a silver lining as imemc pointed out today:

Gabi Ashkenazi, the Chief of Staff of the Israeli Army, stated during a meeting with a Knesset Committee on Tuesday, that the Lebanon-based Hezbollah party has more rockets and military power than it had before the second Lebanon war.

Ashkenazi claimed that Hezbollah is also increasing its power south of the Litany River, but added that the party is facing some difficulties due to the presence of the UNIFIL forces.

He also said that, right now, the party has more rockets and long-range ammunition than it had before the war.

Ashkenazi believes that Hezbollah is seeking retaliation to avenge the killing of its senior commander, Imad Mughaniyya, as the party blames Israel for the assassination.

Referring to Iran and what Israel calls the “Iranian Nuclear Threat”, Ashkenazi said that there is a sort of dialogue between Iran and the United States, but added that imposing sanctions on the Islamic Republic is essential.

He claimed that Israel and some Arab countries have common interests in “halting the Iranian nuclear ambitions”, and added that a firm economic pressure would push Iran to change its policies.

Yet, he also said that Israel is ready for any possible scenario that could take place, including military action.

what is a palestinian festival of literature?

apartheid wall, beit lahem with painting of mahmoud darwish
apartheid wall, beit lahem with painting of mahmoud darwish
close up of mahmoud darwish painting on the apartheid wall
close up of mahmoud darwish painting on the apartheid wall

it was the fourth day of the palestinian festival of literature today. the schedule had the group spending the afternoon in aida refugee camp and a friend of mine at badil was doing the logistical organizing so i asked him if i could join them and he said yes. i had to be a bit unobtrusive, however, as i learned that problems emerged today. there were three journalists who have been accompanying the writers to document the festival: one from electronic intifada, one woman from a singapore newspaper, and one woman from the new yorker. apparently ahdaf soueif decided that there are “the writers” and then there are “writers.” journalists, apparently, fall into the second category. so although they had been traveling with the group for the past few days, they were not allowed to come to the camp.

i walked to the camp, but the writers were behind schedule so i went to the lajee center where the program in the camp would begin. as i walked to the camp i noticed this new art on the apartheid wall. i guess it has been there a while, but i had not noticed it before. it is a painting by a french painter of mahmoud darwish (i cannot recall his name, but if someone knows please remind me). the same painting is in several different public spaces in palestine including in manara square in ramallah, in the garden at the khalil sakakini centre in ramallah, and before the front door of the lajee center. it is a reminder of darwish’s powerful presence in the psyche of palestinians. it is also a reminder of the importance of poetry in palestinian culture. one would never see such a tribute paid to an american writer. i cannot image any american writer being mourned and memorialized the way that darwish is here.

view of apartheid wall and gilo colony from aida refugee camp
view of apartheid wall and gilo colony from aida refugee camp

the lajee center has moved since the last time i was there. they have a much bigger space now and their building has a view of the apartheid wall as well as the gilo colony nearby on the land of beit jala. when the group finally arrived they came up for a presentation that started with two of the digital resistance project by children in aida camp that i’m actually writing about in the chapter i’m working on right now. the first is from a girl named abeer and the second from a girl named kholoud:

a couple of people talked about the camp and what it means to be a refugee and then the group went downstairs to view a photo exhibit produced by the children. then a brief walking tour of the camp began. it concluded with a dabke performance at al rowwad center in aida camp.

nathalie handal in aida refugee camp
nathalie handal in aida refugee camp
suheir hammad in aida refugee camp
suheir hammad in aida refugee camp
al rowwad dabka performance
al rowwad dabka performance

as i observed this visit to the camp i thought about the narrative being told about an nakba and about colonization in palestine. about the words chosen. about bearing witness. about what it means to be told these stories. about the responsibility of the listener who hears those stories. about how it affected these writers. one writer, henning mankell, who fell asleep while onstage during the first night’s performance in al quds, appeared as if he could barely stand being in the camp today. before the tour even began he stated loudly, “i’ve heard enough,” and left the group. while possibly he had jet lag the first night, and perhaps today he was tired, this outburst was extremely rude and deeply offensive to those who heard it.

i’m not sure what could have offended mankell. actually the language seemed quite mild to me. a lot of these writers are new to the subject of palestine and for most of them this is their first trip here. when internationals come here i think it is important for them to understand that when they learn about the colonies like gilo that they can see swallowing up palestinian villages like beit jala, they also need to understand that those are not the only colonies. they need to understand that villages like beit jebreen or zakariya are also colonies that occupy the land where palestinian refugees in aida camp–or any other camp for that matter–come from and where they have a right of return to. i wish that part of this trip had included not just the camp visit, but also a visit to a couple of the original villages with a couple of the kids from the camp. they could have conducted a writing workshop in that context and both the internationals and the youth from the camps could have composed poems or narratives about the village, about what it means to be a refugee. indeed, going to villages with refugees is the most powerful, awe-inspiring experience one can have in palestine. and helping give voice to palestinian refugees who wish to narrate their stories about an nakba and their right of return is essential, especially given the fact that the zionist entity is trying to make it illegal for palestinians to mourn this annual historical event marking their dispossession:

The Israeli cabinet ministers approved on Sunday a draft law banning the commemoration of the Nakba, the Arab word for catastrophe.

Palestinians mark their Nakba every year on the 15th of May as this the day when Israel was created after hundreds of Palestinians were killed and the majority of the people living in that territory lost their homes and became refugees.

The draft law will be submitted for Israeli parliamentary approval next week. If this law will pass people can face prison sentences up to three years. About 1.2 million Palestinians live inside Israel and thus constitute a minority of around twenty percent.

Dr. Jamal Zahalka, an Arab member of the Israeli Parliament told IMEMC over the phone that this law shows the real face of Israel. “This is a stupid, racist and very rude law that is unprecedented in the world. This law will control the feelings of people. It’s a rude law in particular because Israel has expelled our people and destroyed our villages, and then now they want to steal our cry of pain from us.” Dr. Zahalka said.

The draft bill was brought forward at the instigation of the radical ultra-nationalist Yisrael Beitenu party of Avigdor Lieberman, now Israel’s foreign minister.

During the Israeli elections of 2009, Yisrael Beitenu, now holding 15 of the 120 seats in parliament, targeted Israel’s Arab minority during the election campaign, adopting the slogan “No Citizenship without Loyalty”. Nadeem Nashif, President of the Association for Arab Youth, Baladna, a Palestinian NGO in Israel, told IMEMC that this law, if it will pass, will not stop the commemoration of the Nakba

“We will continue to commemorate the Nakba, no one can force use not to do so, for us it is an important part of our history and heritage. As we commemorated the Nakba in the past will do it in the future.” Nashif said.

On Monday Israeli media reported that three Labor ministers declared their intention to appeal the approval by the ministerial panel.

Israeli Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog, Agriculture Minister Shalom Simhon, and Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman said the draft bill will damage the freedom of expression and freedom of association.
The draft legislation has sparked up a lot of controversy in the Israeli society as well.

“To what level of stupidity can they sink?” said Dr. Eyal Gross, a constitutional law expert at Tel Aviv University as quoted in Israeli media, “it’s the kind of law that tries to make everyone think the same way. I don’t know of any similar laws in any democratic country.”

According to Gross, despite the fact that the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union has fallen, it seems that someone in the Knesset longs for the days in which there was only one truth, that was dictated by the government

The bill is expected to pass as the Israeli government holds the majority in the Israeli parliament.

At the same time Lieberman’s party has put forward another controversial draft legislation to the ministerial committee. The proposal calls for an amendment to the Citizenship Law. It states that people who refuse to state their willingness to serve in the army or perform alternative service will not be entitled to Israeli citizenship, as Yisrael Beiteinu also put forward in its election slogan.

The draft also includes an oath of allegiance: “I pledge to be loyal to the State of Israel as a Jewish, Zionist and democratic state, to its symbols and values, and serve the state, as required, in military service, or alternative service, as stated by the law.”
The amendment to the law also suggests that signing this declaration would be conditional in order to obtain an identity card in Israel. It determines that the state would be allowed to cancel the citizenship of a person who did not fulfill any of the described duties.

In Israel the Palestinian population is exempted from compulsory military service. In recent years the discussion has come up that Palestinian Israelis, instead of doing military service, should be engaged in alternative civil services, to serve the Israeli state in a different way.

As with the Nakba ban proposal the criticism on this draft proposal is that it limits the freedom of expression and it damages the basic principles of democracy.

robin yassin-kassab, claire messud, jamal mahjoub, michael palin
robin yassin-kassab, claire messud, jamal mahjoub, michael palin

after the visit to the camp i went to a coffeeshop with some friends until the reading for tonight began. there i learned from one of the journalists covering this trip that the criteria for being chosen is just whether or not they are famous. not what they will do after. not whether or not they have feelings or even curiosity about palestine. the subject tonight was “literary representations of migration and travel” and included claire messud, michael palin, robin yassin-kassab, and jamal mahjoub. for most of the discussion, as well as this literature festival more generally, i kept wondering: what is the point of this festival? is it merely a literature festival in palestine? it certainly isn’t a palestinian literature festival. yet again the bulk of the panel discussion had nothing to do with palestine even though the theme of the panel was about a subject that is very much related to palestine and yet it took quite some time before the subject was brought up. i feel like palestinian writers–here and from abroad–should be included in every one of the panel discussions, in part to inject the subject of palestine into the context. suheir hammad and nathalie handal should be included in these panel discussions; they are the only palestinian writers on the tour and yet, from my perspective, seem totally marginal in terms of how much we in the audience have heard their voices (nathalie has yet to do a reading of her poems).

robin yassin-kassab was the only one to bring up palestine–in relation to suad amiry’s talk the other night–in relation to the changing landscape in palestine in relation to his countries of origin, britain and syria. meanwhile claire messud brought up salman rushdie’s book imaginary homelands without ever connecting it to the very real aspirations for palestinians and their right to their homeland. and this is after spending an afternoon in a refugee camp. at one point my friend abed asked them a pointed question about what they will do after their trip here, but they seem to side step the question. i also asked a similar question, but made mine particularly pointed especially because there was someone in the audience with an american accent who identified himself as “living in israel,” which almost made me lose it; i took off my sandal wanting to throw it at him. so my question began with a statement that made it clear that whether it was gilo they were looking at or the apartheid wall: it is not about this recent confiscated land and that those villages they heard about today are every bit as much colonies as those we can see from the camps. and then i asked them what will they do when they go home? will they use their voices? their pens? pressure their governments (u.s. and u.k.)? these are people who have people’s attention far more than someone like me: what will they do with their voices? will they speak about the right of return for palestinian refugees? or will this just be an experience they had and that’s the end of that? messud directed me to the mission statement of the festival which reads as follows:

Palfest brings writers and artists from around the world to Palestinian audiences. It initiates and organizes cultural festivals with international and local participation. It organises workshops with students in Palestinian academic institutions in co-operation with Palestinian academics.

clearly this statement is working overtime trying to be apolitical. but the problem is coming here one cannot be apolitical as even the pope found out when he visited aida refugee camp. if they are here to help palestinian students and academics, why not do so in a way that can help them in literary and political ways? why not invite anti-colonial writers–ngugi wa thiongo’ comes to mind–who can share not only their art and craft, but also their political experience with people here? why not bring people who can talk about literature and resistance? moreover, who is this festival for? none of the events so far have had translation and all of the speaking has been in english. those who speak english well enough to attend such events are necessarily going to be from predominantly elite families. so is this a festival only for the elites of palestine?

and, by the way, the last question of the evening was about the cultural and academic boycott campaign (only two of these authors is signed onto the cultural boycott: victoria brittain and ahdaf soueif).

even the palfest blog is disappointing in terms of the kinds of things that the writers are observing. but not suheir hammad. never suheir. she posted something today about her day in ramallah:

….h, i, j, k, l.

between “k” and “l” no thing. air. space.

a walk. a wall. a walk.

raja shehadeh is a walker and a trail blazer, but not a tour leader. we walked and climbed and slid and sometimes crawled through the hills in our city slicker clothes. we held each other’s hands as we made ways up and then down. thorns everywhere. settlements on highest ground, and the sun behind clouds. sumac and zaatar and maramiya growing. terraced hills.

the israeli settlers from nearby colonies get to walk in these hills unmolested. the palestinians do not. the beauty and energy of the land, i imagine, has no political motivation, unless the desire to be loved and appreciated is political. it is here.

i wonder if soil has heart. i wonder if blood, sweat, and tears do feed roots and flower fruit. if the earth itself has memory, and can she remember, somehow, all those who came and planted and ate here. especially, as i struggle through the climb, i think of the women in traditional gear, expected roles, climbing with broad steady feet these steps in the hills. i wonder if some people are walking phantom limbs looking for home.

*suad amiry this evening talks about how she gets lost in the west bank, when once she knew it like her hand. so many checkpoints and detours where once there were open roads. “space and time here is not what you think,” she says and i understand. what once took 20 minutes now takes ten times the time. where there was space to plant and even bbq and picnic, there is now…the space is still there but it’s no longer accessible. so “here” and “now” mean different things in this place.

*in ramallah i get to see many friends who come out for the festival’s evening event. i ask them each, how has the year been, and the answers are the same, and in an order. first they respond, “alhumdilallah” or something like it, meaning “thank god/all good”. then they ask how i am. then i ask again and the answer is something along the lines of “not bad”. ask again, and the truth comes, and the truth here, now, is beautiful and hard, like the land we walked.

*there is a wall.
here is a land.
now is the time.
the people are here.
still.