مخيم العودة

i spent last week at summer camp. my dear friend at ibdaa cultural center in deheishe refugee camp has been organizing and planning for this all year. we’ve done these trips before when we take children under age 16, who do not yet have their identity cards, to their original villages in 1948 palestine. we spent the previous couple of weeks mapping the villages so as to have an idea where they were. deheishe refugee camp is unusual in that it has more villages represented in it than any other camp. there are over 46 villages represented in the camp today, although at one time it was 52. the villages are spread out, too, all the way from gaza to haifa (with respect to original palestinian districts and borders). we had 37 youth join the summer camp, broken down into three groups, and we spent the week with them touring their villages and conducting workshops on life before an nakba, the right of return, and how to use rap music as a form of resistance. each night before we closed down we had a huge reflection circle where the kids would share their thoughts about visiting their own villages and those of their friends. and, of course, it wouldn’t be a summer camp without kids running through the hallways playing soccer and drumming on the tabla into all hours of the night. it reminded me of abu mujahed’s summer camp i attended in lebanon for the kids from shatila refugee camp who were so happy to have a wide open space in which to play and exist in ba’albek a couple of years ago.

when we took kids to their villages before it was just one day and we had a small group on one bus. we didn’t hit nearly as many villages and it was just a one-time experience. this project is the beginning of a year-long project that will now begin the process of collecting oral history from the kids’ families as well as teaching them about their right of return. the hope is to help the youth feel connected to their history and to various forms of resistance that will facilitate the right of return. there is a fear that this generation is more attached to their refugee camp than to their villages and this project is one way of intervening in that. and i have hope that this will work. the week before camp friends of mine who had kids coming with us told us stories of how they came home excited from our meetings asking all sorts of questions, doing research on the internet about their villages, reading, and learning about where they come from. one friend of mine from zakariya told me that his son talked to his grandmother about their village and that he learned things from his mother he had not known before either. so it became a family enterprise, one that i hope and expect will continue throughout the year and then some. i had my own group in the camp that i took around in a car to cut down on costs. we went to the villages furthest away from the church that hosted us in 1948 palestine for the week. below is a series of photographs that i took in the villages and some brief reflections and context on the villages.

day one

we got a late start on our first day, partially because not only did i drive my own car, but i was also responsible for smuggling older youth and friends organizing the camp out of deheishe. i made several trips and we were all elated when we managed to get everyone out (in zionist terrorist colonist terms we were “infiltrators”). we also had a bit of a delay with the baker making manaqeesh for our lunch. after we finally got everyone into 1948 palestine we broke down into our groups and went to the villages. we used walid khalidi’s book all that remains and palestine remembered as our guides, as well as salman abu sitta’s the return journey: a guide to depopulated and present palestinian towns and villages and holy sites. these are great resources historically speaking, and each child received a folder with materials including copies of the related pages to their village. however, these are not great resources–except for abu sitta’s book–with respect to finding the remnants of the village which can be an enormous task. oftentimes you have to use these resources to find the zionist terrorist colony built on top of the ruins of the palestinian village, though this doesn’t work so well when the zionist terrorist colonists planted a forest over the village (with the help of americans, canadians, and the british). with that in mind we purchased gps systems for each group to mark the villages and the things we found in them. i am going to upload that information into google earth later this week or next week so we can begin to map palestinian villages on the map and aid other people wanting to find their villages.

our first village was قسطينة (qastina), which is in gaza. there is not much left of the village today. khalidi’s book, which was originally published in the early 1990s, shows an image of some rubble of former houses, but we were unable to find any. instead we found a number of zionist terrorist colonies on the land and a number of olive trees and cacti, though the olive trees were relatively new. in a number of villages last week i was awestruck by the ways in which the zionist terrorist colonists destroyed plants and trees only to replant them again later with the assistance of diaspora zionists. qastina used to have wheat, barley, sesame, beehives, and vineyards, but we found none of this. the depopulation of qastina is described by khalidi:

Qastina was occupied around 9 July 1948, shortly after teh end of the first truce, by the Giv’ati Brigade, when it advanced southwards into Egyptian-controlled territory. During the ten-day period between the two truces (8-18 July), the Brigade succeeded in seizing an area comprising at least sixteen villages, all of whose inhabitants were displaced. The residents of Qastina, like those of nearby al-Masmiyya, were probably driven south towards Gaza, rather than east to the Hebron area. Operational orders issued by Brigade commander Shim’on Avidan had called for civilians to be expelled; however, the inhabitants of this area fled almost as soon as the operation began, according to a later Israeli army report. The village had earlier been mentioned in Plan Dalet as one of the villages to be occupied by the Giv’ati Brigade. (131)

qastina, palestine
qastina, palestine
stones of qastina, palestine
stones of qastina, palestine

our second village was تل الترمس (tall al-tarmus), which is essentially across the street from qastina and suffered the same fate. we found a zionist terrorist colonist university as we entered the settlement and then a vast agricultural space which was filled with grapes and plums for the zionists’ agribusiness. we saw trucks of asian migrant workers, who have, in recent years, replaced the palestinian workers who have for the last few decades farmed their own land stolen by the zionists for just a few shekels a day. the vineyards and orchards were also new trees here, too. but we spent time here–as in all the villages–picking fruit, collecting stones and soil, to take home to older family members who are not allowed to visit their villages. khalidi on tall al-tarmus’ depopulation:

As the first truce of the war was winding down, Israeli forces on the southern front were planning a major push south of al-Ramla towards the Negev, which they called Operation An-Far (see Bil’in, Gaza District). Tall al-Tarmus probably fell early in this operation, around 9-10 July 1948, to the First Battalion of the Giv’ati Brigade. During this operation the villagers of Tall al-Tarmous may have been among a minority who were driven over an Israeli-held strip towards Gaza, rather than eastwards towards Hebron. (138)

zionist terrorist colonist university on the land of tell al-tarmus, palestine
zionist terrorist colonist university on the land of tell al-tarmus, palestine
asian migrant workers picking grapes in occupied tall al-tarmous, palestine
asian migrant workers picking grapes in occupied tall al-tarmous, palestine

the final village for our first day was قطرة (qatra). khalidi says that there was a school that remained and a few deserted houses, but the area that likely had those buildings before seems to no longer be there. we saw an area that we believed held such places before, but the ground was blackened and there were only piles of stones and tiles of palestinian flooring around it, and, of course, lots of cacti. on this first day i had younger kids with me and it seemed to me that they had a very distorted sense of space as a result of growing up in the refugee camp. their sense of area and space is compact and crowded. when i drove around to give the kids an idea of the vast area each of their villages covered they had a hard time conceptualizing it. in qatra there was a hill we climbed up where we could see a view of the land belonging to qatra and the girl from this village found it almost impossible to imagine that such a large area belonged to her village as did the other kids with respect to their villages. here is the story of qatra’s ethnic cleansing from khalidi:

The earliest report of Haganah military activity at Qatra was on 13 March 1948, when the Palestinian newspaper Filastin reported a shooting incident involving Arab fruit-pickers working in an orchard that left five workers wounded. A month later, a New York Times story indicated that Haganah squads moved into the police fortress at Qatra on 17 April, after its evacuation by the British.

Israeli historian Benny Morris states that unites of the Giv’ati Brigade surrounded the village on 6 May and demanded that the villagers hand over all their weapons. After that, Morris reports the following sequence of events: several dozen armed men tried to break out of the village but were stopped by the Haganah. The villagers handed over several rifles to the Giv’ati Brigade troops, who nevertheless proceeded to move into the village. After that, the soldiers began looting the village and one of them was shot dead by a villager. The Haganah arrested several villagers, and according to Morris, “within a few days, either intimidated the rest of the villagers into leaving or ordered them to leave.” The official Haganah account agrees that Qatra was occupied around this time, but cites the Alexandroni Brigade (probably erroneously) as the occupying force). (404)

zionist terrorist colony of qidron on the land of qatra, palestine
zionist terrorist colony of qidron on the land of qatra, palestine
playground for zionist terrorist colonist children in occupied qatra, palestine
playground for zionist terrorist colonist children in occupied qatra, palestine

day two

day two of camp was a bit of a deviation from visiting villages. we spent the morning in القدس (al quds) and the afternoon in يافا (yaffa). ideally we wanted to do this on the final day of camp, but we needed to take such a trip when we wouldn’t be confronted by lots of zionist terrorist colonists in the old city or at the beach and so we had to do it on the second day. anyone who has ever been to al quds can attest to the fact that keeping 37 youth together in the old city is quite a challenge. next year i want to buy them all neon orange shirts so we can keep track of them. the most difficult part was going to al aqsa because my friend who is a refugee, but who lives in the old city, guided us around and he didn’t know the kids. none of the other adults could go with him inside the mosque because our leaders from the camp were there illegally and zionist terrorist colonists have checkpoints surrounding the mosque and one cannot get in without passing through it with your id card. and our international volunteers could not get in because it happened to be prayer time. but i managed to get in, which is good because my friend needed help keeping the kids together, which was a challenge with only two adults (and this even though not all the kids wanted to go in for some odd reason).

the kids and leaders who waited outside the mosque for us stumbled upon the african community society which had its own summer camp in progress. they were singing and drumming and when we came out of the mosque we joined them. their website seems to be down for the moment, but here is what their brochure says about their work:

The African Community Society, AFS, is a Palestinian non-governmental non-profit society founded by the Afro-Palestinian community in Jerusalem in 1983. It is an offshoot of the Sudanese Welfare Club which was active between 1935-1967, the year when Israel occupied Jerusalem. It is also a revival of the African Youth Club, established in 1978 but forced to close in the mid-eighties due to financial difficulties.

african community society, old city, al quds, palestine
african community society, old city, al quds, palestine
zionist terrorist colonist private security in the old city, al quds, palestine
zionist terrorist colonist private security in the old city, al quds, palestine

just as my friend took us around al quds and gave the kids some historical context so too did another friend take us around yaffa, though this historical portion was a bit shorter as one of the reason for the trip was also to let the kids enjoy the beach for the day since they are forbidden from swimming in their own sea. the man who took us around is someone who i was put in touch with a couple of years ago. he is a history teacher and he knows a lot about refugees from yaffa and also about where various families’ homes are or were. he talked to us about the ongoing ethnic cleansing of the area, which was visible to us, particularly along the beach, as the zionist terrorist colonists were making way for a beach park. he told us that since 2007 497 palestinian families have had their homes demolished in yaffa. a report on this was released by the arab association for human rights in 1948 palestine detailing this practice and which reads in part:

“The war that began in 1948 to purge Jaffa of its Arab residents has never ended and continues to this day. In 1948 it was waged by force, and today they use legal and economic means. The state claims that these are the rules of the market, in full knowledge that they will work against the Arab population.” — Attorney Hisham Shabaita, a social activist and Jaffa resident

On 19 March 2007, Amidar Israel National Housing Company (Amidar) published a document entitled “A Review of the Stock of Squatted Properties in Jaffa — Interior Committee, Israel Knesset.” The document reviewed properties managed by the company in the Jaffa-Tel Aviv area. Section 5 noted that “the project includes a total of 497 squatters, constituting 16.8 percent of the total properties managed by Amidar.”

Section 5 of the document relates, in fact, to 497 orders received over the past 18 months by Palestinian families living in the Ajami and Jabaliya neighborhoods in Jaffa to vacate their homes or businesses. These homes are owned by the state and managed by Amidar in its name. The grounds for eviction range from “squatting” in the property to “building additions” to properties undertaken by the Palestinian tenants of these properties without approval from Amidar and without obtaining a permit from the planning and building authorities.

By law, eviction is permitted in such circumstances. Accordingly, the eviction orders may ostensibly seem to be a legitimate and lawful move by Amidar in response to legal violations by the tenants. Israeli law empowers a landlord letting his property to another — a status that applies to the relationship between the Palestinian tenants and Amidar — to demand the eviction of a tenant who has violated the law or the rental contract with the landlord. Squatting or building additions to the property without the approval of the landlord or the planning authorities are considered violations justifying the eviction of the tenant.

According to the Palestinian residents, however, the issuing of these orders actually reflects a desire to evict them from the neighborhood, which in recent years has become a magnet for wealthy Jewish buyers. They believe that the issuing of the eviction orders cannot be divorced from a process terms the “development of Jaffa” by the Tel Aviv Municipality. This process, which is currently at its peak, actually amounts to a plan to “judaize” Jaffa, i.e. to attract as many Jewish residents as possible to the area, which is currently perceived by the Jewish public as an “Arab” city — despite the fact that, in statistical terms, this is inaccurate.

as we walked from the city to the beach we walked along a rocky shore. but the rocks seemed to want to tell a story. if you look at my photograph below you will see an image of these rocks. many of them are little bits that have been molded together to form a larger rock. but those pieces making up that rock look like pieces from the rubble of people’s houses. too, we found a number of pieces of the famous palestinian painted tile floors among the rocks, which have been softened by the salt water. you can see one of them in the photograph below too–it is on the left and in shades of purple. but while i was contemplating this and listening to our guide share stories about what life is like when you try to teach palestinian history to youth in 1948 palestine, the kids were enjoying themselves swimming, playing in the sand, and running around on the beach. the day gave the kids an opportunity to be normal kids who can run around freely outside, something sorely missing in their lives and yet another reason to fight for the right of return. for whether these kids choose to live in their villages or not they have the right to go to the beach when they want or move freely throughout their country without risking jail for doing so.

after the evening’s reflections i made another trip to deheishe to do another smuggling run. this time a friend and her two small children. i did not get back to the church until 3 am for a number of reasons, but suffice it to say we managed to get yet another crew out.

wanna-be zionist terrorist colonists from the u.s. in occupied yaffa, palestine
wanna-be zionist terrorist colonists from the u.s. in occupied yaffa, palestine
destruction of palestinian homes in occupied yaffa, palestine
destruction of palestinian homes in occupied yaffa, palestine
destroying palestinian land for a beach park in occupied yaffa, palestine
destroying palestinian land for a beach park in occupied yaffa, palestine
if rocks could tell stories...notice the stone that used to be a tile in a palestinian home, yaffa beach, palestine
if rocks could tell stories…notice the stone that used to be a tile in a palestinian home, yaffa beach, palestine

day three

i slept in a bit on day three since i returned so late, but the friend who i brought back did not have that luxury as she had to do a workshop that morning on life before an nakba. she’s a drama teacher and did several interactive activities with the kids including getting them to act out life before an nakba and resistance to the zionist take over of their land. it was great as all the kids were highly engaged and had a great time drawing and acting. at the end they all wrote letters to their children and grandchildren about this history.

drawing from the life in palestine before an nakba workshop
drawing from the life in palestine before an nakba workshop
former palestinian school in occupied zakariya, palestine
former palestinian school in occupied zakariya, palestine
ruins of the palestinian village of beit jibrin
ruins of the palestinian village of beit jibrin

after the morning workshop i headed with my group back towards gaza. we drove past zakariya and beit jibrin on the way (see above photos), which is good as it gave the kids an idea of what villages look like when there are obvious structures from the road that show you it is a palestinian vilage. the first village was الفالوجة (falluja). when we did a test run of this village we had a difficult time figuring out where to look for remnants of it given that a huge zionist terrorist colonist army base occupies a huge chunk of the land today. but there was also a forest which i figured logically would have something from the village in it. but forests are difficult to navigate when looking for ruins. as we drove through we saw a tent in the distance. the kids thought it was a bunch of settlers camping, but as we drove closer we realized it was more of a permanent tent. and as luck would have it, we found it inhabited by a bedouin man from naqab. he got into the car with us and took us to the ruins of the mosque and a sheikh’s tomb next to it, which is a bit hard to make out. khalidi has quite a bit on the operation aimed at cleansing the village of its palestinian inhabitants, but here is a particularly revealing part of it:

Foreign Minister Moshe Sharrett personally reprimanded the Israeli army’s chief of staff for acts committed by the Israeli soldiers against the population. Sharrett said that in addition to overt violence, the Israeli army was busy conducting

a “whispering propaganda” campaign among the Arabs, threatening them with attacks and acts of vengeance by the army, which the civilian authorities will be powerless to prevent. There is no doubt that there is a calculated action aimed at increasing the number of those going to the Hebron Hills as if of their own free will, and if possible, to bring about the evacuation of the whole civilian population of [the pocket].

Israeli historian Benny Morris writes that the decision to cause the exodus of the “Faluja pocket” population was probably approved by the Israeli prime minister David Ben-Gurion. Subsequently Israeli officials feigned outrage at what had happened and misled the international community about Israeli actions. The director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, Walter Eytan, told U.S. Ambassador James McDonald that Israel had broadcast “repeated reassuring notices” to the inhabitants to stay put; however, they acted “as if they smelled a rat” and abandoned their homes. (97)

entrance to the former palestinian village of falluja
entrance to the former palestinian village of falluja
ruins of a palestinian mosque in falluja
ruins of a palestinian mosque in falluja

after falluja we drove west towards المجدل (al majdal), a major palestinian city. one of the young little boys (i had young kids again this day) is from this city. the kids in this group were kind of quiet, likely because they were enough exhausted at this point that they slept in between villages and cities in the car. we arrived in al majdal and it was as overwhelming as a forest. this city of buildings, as opposed to the trees of villages like beit itab (below) made it extremely difficult to find anything. but i knew from ilan pappe’s the ethnic cleansing of palestine that at least a palestinian mosque still existed and it was now a bar/restaurant. we drove around for about 30-40 minutes searching for it. we were in and out of suburbs where we saw children the same age skateboarding carefree in the streets on this city’s stolen land. we saw children playing in the water on the beach while the little boy i had with me looked on in anger. this sweet little boy (who is the best tabla player i’ve ever heard) did not say one word while we drove through his city. the only sound i heard from him was that of a stone against a wall once we finally found the old city.

but i needed help finding the old city so i broke down and went into an american hotel in occupied majdal. the holiday inn there (coincidentally owned and operated by lev leviev’s africa-israel corporation that traffics in blood diamonds and is famous for building illegal settlements) happened to have a map of “ashkelon” on which there was an icon of the mosque in the city’s “art district” (zionist terrorist colonists like to make stolen palestinian buildings into artistic spaces, which i find a bit odd given that they are all about destruction and art is supposed to be about creation). it only took us a few minutes at that point to drive to theodor herzl street where the mosque is located (actually it’s at the intersection of theodor herzl and anne frank streets). there was not only a mosque (turned into a restaurant/bar as well as a museum of “ashkelon’s history”) but also a number of palestinian homes in varying states of destruction and decay. although the buildings in al majdal have not completely erased palestinian traces in this city, the map’s idea of a historical narrative has. here is how they mythologize the history of al majdal:

The old and the new meet in Ashkelon, one of the oldest cities in the world. For 4,000 years it played an important role in the ancient history of the East. Due to its location on the “Sea road” which runs along the coast from Egypt to Syria, the city’s history is filled with construction alternating with destruction as foreign conquests succeeded one another. The first mention of Ashkelon is in Egyptian writings from the 19th Century B.C.E. At the end of 13th Century B.C.E. it was conquered by the Philistines who arrived from the islands, and was considered one of their five principle cities. After the Israelites returned from Egypt, Ashkelon was to go to the tribe of Dan, but the Israelites were unable to conquer it from the Philistines…. In 734 B.C.E. Ashkelon surrendered to Assyrian rule, and during the Hellenistic period was an important center for Greek culture. Jews lived in Ashkelon during the Roman and Byzantine periods as well as during the period of Arab conquest. The community was annihilated in 1153 following the crusader conquest of the city. Ashkelon fell to Saladin in 1187 and was finally destroyed by Sultan Baibars in 1270, after which it was not reconstructed. The history of modern Ashkelon begins with the liberation of the town of Majdal by the Israel Defence Forces during the War of Independence.

notice how they fail to mention the foreign conquest that is the zionist entity. notice how they say the “israelites returned.” they really give irony a new meaning when they concoct their sense of history–they invert everything and the so-called “Arab conquest” is a case in point. their complete erasure between 1270 and 1948 is a glaring example as well. al majdal is not in khalidi’s book as he only covers 410 destroyed palestinian villages and there were 531. but there is a bit on the city’s history in marim shahin and george azar’s palestine: a guide. here is how their tourist book explains the more recent history of al majdal:

Majdal was founded in the 14th century during the rule of Baibars, who put an end to the wars over Askalan by destroying it and starting fresh with this inland city. Majdal served as a substitute for the people of Askalan. It was famous for producing cloth and clothing: its advanced weaving industry served much of southern Palestine, including Gaza and the Negev.

About 75 years ago Majdal was described as a “thriving town of some 8,000 souls, pleasantly surrounded by orchards and a well-stocked bazaar with several small factories, which wove cotton materials.” Today the city center is called “downtown” and the main attraction of Arab Majdal, the area around the mosque, has been turned into a flea market. The mosque itself has been turned into a museum, in which a few archeological finds from the city are housed. An interesting selection of photographs from the 1930s and early 1940s shows life in Arab Majdal, which was clearly different from what it is today.

Majdal had 11,000 homes when it was bombed by the Israelis in July 1948. By the time the military campaign was over, only 1,500 people were left in the city. They were herded into three city districts and by 1951 they had been evicted through a series of military and administrative security measures. Most of the refugees and their descendants live in the Gaza Strip refugee camps to this day. Majdal itself is a quarter in the Israeli city of Ashqelon. (405-406)

obviously, some of the refugees are in deheishe. and my little friend comes from one of those families. it was hard to get a sense of what he was thinking and feeling. but i learned that night that the previous day, while enjoying himself on the beach in yaffa, he was asked how he felt about being in yaffa. he was happy and expressed how much he enjoyed being there. and then he was asked if he would like to live in yaffa. and he was adamant: no. he wants to live in majdal. even at that point he had never seen majdal, but he knew in his soul that this is the place for him. and, of course, this is his right. his right of return. but watching him, in particular, out of the kids i was with reminded me of the various psychological ups and downs of this particular camp–from the joy of playing and being free on the beach or at the church to the realization of your own history and the struggle for your rights. this experience makes all of this tangible, but also possibly traumatizing. fortunately we have a great team of mental health workers at ibdaa who can help us deal with follow up issues to try to channel whatever trauma may come up into productive energy of the ongoing work we want to do.

palestinian mosaic floor in occupied al majdal, palestine
palestinian mosaic floor in occupied al majdal, palestine
theodor herzl street with palestinian mosque in background in occupied al majdal
theodor herzl street with palestinian mosque in background in occupied al majdal
destroyed palestinian home, al majdal
destroyed palestinian home, al majdal
palestinian mosque in al majdal used as restaurant/bar and museum
palestinian mosque in al majdal used as restaurant/bar and museum
zionist terrorist colonist museum in a palestinian mosque in al majdal
zionist terrorist colonist museum in a palestinian mosque in al majdal
destroyed palestinian home in al majdal
destroyed palestinian home in al majdal

day four

since we did not have time to cover all the villages prior to camp, a group of us woke up extra early this fourth day of camp to check out more precise locations and input them into the gps system. we spent two hours driving around to discover where عرتوف (artuf), عسلين (islin), إشوع (ishwa), صرعة (sara’a), بيت محسير (beit mahsir) might be located today. of course we had not counted on the fact that some of these villages had settlements on them which were occupied by zionist terrorist colonists who were also religious jews. as we drove around the colonies looking for traces of palestinian life not destroyed, we were chased out of beit mahsir, for example, because jews don’t drive on saturdays if they are religious. given that these are gated settlements with security, much like colonies in the west bank, we drove quickly out of the settlement because we had one palestinian with us who we had smuggled into 1948 palestine.

we returned back just in time to leave for the day’s trips. i had only made it to two villages the prior day because it took so much time to drive and then to look for the mosque in majdal. i felt so bad that the little boy from khulda did not get to see his village that day so i promised him i would take him first and i did just that.

خُلدة (khulda) is in the north in the ramla district and today is the hulda forest run by the jewish national fund. there are two palestinian houses on the land, one of which is used as a “herzl house” museum of sorts. it was closed so we could not see what was inside. when we arrived we were greeted with more myth making on the part of the zionist terrorist colonists who have stolen this land. there are also a settlement on the village land. here are some of the lies that the brochure by the jnf says about the site:

Following Herzl’s death in 1904 KKL-JNF initiated an Olive Tree Fund to raise monies for the purchase of land and the planting of olive trees. The lands of Hulda were placed at KKL-JNF’s disposal for the planting of groves in Herzl’s memory.

In 1909, an olive plantation was established at the site and a large residence built and named for Herzl…. During World War I, however, most of the workers fled or were evicted and farming died down. Those that stayed on faced both a severe water shortage and a locust plague that wreaked havoc on the plantation. After the war, groups of pioneers settled at Hulda, bringing with them the idea of forest cover for a barren land: “We’ll afforest, revive and settle the hills.”

…In the summer of 5689 (1929) bloody riots swept through the country, including the isolated farm. On the night of 28 of Av (3 September), Hulda’s residents came under heavy attack from local Arabs. Efrayim Chizhik, who had arrived at the site to help defend it, fell in battle. His sacrifice and dedication, like that of his sister, Sarah, were typical of the handful of pioneers who made possible the settlement enterprise in Eretz Israel.

Sarah Chizhik fell in the defense of Tel Hai in northern Israel–a battle that came to symbolize the stand of a few against many. Efrayim reached Hulda with former Shomer (Guard) Yaacov Abramson to find 16 young men, two women and two children there, and were later joined by some 20 members of the pre-state Jewish Haganah defense organization who set about fortifying the place.

But they could not withstand the thousands of rioters from nearby villages who attacked Hulda, surrounding the courtyard and setting fire to the large granary. As the defenders crawled back to Herzl House, Chizhik, who led the retreat, suffered a mortal wound. The farmhouse ws now under siege and, during the night, a contingent of British soldiers arrived and demanded that the Hulda occupants evacuate. There was no other choice. The farm was destroyed and the forest went up in flame. Once more, the farm was deserted and lay in ruins, this time for two years.

just like herzl is where zionism all began, so too the “forest” that bears his name on the land of what was once khulda. this above fabricated history, not unlike the one about al majdal, completely erases palestinians who had lived on the land of khulda for centuries. in contradistinction, here is what khalidi says about life before 1948 and the depopulation of the village:

The village was situated on a flat hilltop and overlooked wide areas on all four sides. Khulda lay close to a highway that connected Gaza with the al-Ramla-Jerusalem highway, and was linked by a network of secondary roads to al-Ramla and a number of major highways. It is identified with a locality that the Crusaders called Huldre. In 1596, Khulda was a village in the nahiya of Ramla (liwa‘ of Gaza) with a population of sixty-six. It paid taxes on a number of crops, including wheat and barley, as well as on other types of produce, such as goats and beehives. [Edward] Robinson passed by the village in 1838; he described it as “large.” In the late nineteenth century, Khulda was described as a large village built of stone and mud and situated on the side of a hill. The village had a masonry well to the west. All of the people of Khulda were Muslims and maintained their own mosque. They drew water for domestic use from two wells, northeast of the village. They worked primarily in animal husbandry and rainfed agriculture, growing grain and small amounts of vegetables. In 1944/45 a total of 8,994 dunums was allotted to cereals; 9 dunums were irrigated or used for orchards.

On 6 April 1948, at the start of Operation Nachshon (see Bayt Naqquba, Jerusalem District), a Haganah battalion occupied Khulda along with neighboring Dayr Muhaysin. Khulda was systematically levelled with bulldozers on 20 April, two weeks after its capture. The History of the Haganah says only that the village was taken “without fighting.” Battles continued to rage around the village in later weeks, however, especiall yin the last week of May when an engagement around al-Latrun spread to the Khulda area, becoming what the press called “the biggest single clash of the war to date.” (389)

notice that even the reference to the haganah version of events doesn’t jive with the zionist jnf mythologizing. in any case, like many other villages we did not find too many old palestinian trees, but the kids found plenty of fruit to pack into bags to take home. this village was a bit tricky at first as when we arrived there were zionist terrorist soldiers in between the two palestinian houses. at first i wasn’t sure what was going on, but then i saw they were on a stage and they must have been acting, though that doesn’t mean they are not also soldiers since every zionist colonist is a terrorist in their terrorist forces for life. but they didn’t disturb us and we were able to look around the palestinian houses a bit.

theodor herzl house/national park (otherwise known as the palestinian village of khulda)
theodor herzl house/national park (otherwise known as the palestinian village of khulda)
zionist terrorist colonists invent a "history" to cover up their crimes in khulda, palestine
zionist terrorist colonists invent a \”history\” to cover up their crimes in khulda, palestine
palestinian house occupied by a theodor herzl museum in kulda, palestine
palestinian house occupied by a theodor herzl museum in kulda, palestine
palestinian file floor in the "herzl house" in occupied kulda
palestinian file floor in the \”herzl house\” in occupied kulda
zionist terrorist soldiers in occupied khulda, apparently acting
zionist terrorist soldiers in occupied khulda, apparently acting

the next village, also in the ramla district, صرفند العمار (sarafand al amar) i knew would be a bit more tricky. we had tested out this village previously, but after talking to some palestinians in ramla we learned that all was to be found there was one of the zionist terrorist regime’s largest military bases and a hospital. however, khalidi promises there are around six houses. we found at least one of them, or at least that is what he girl from the village believes. i just didn’t see the palestinian architectural style in the building so i’m not sure. but whatever we found it was on her land and it was fenced off as old palestinian homes often are. there were also a number of orange trees and other fruit trees that the kids collected fruit from. and let’s not forget the ford motor company and the mcdonald’s on her land with respect to the boycott campaign.

the story of the ethnic cleansing of sarafand al-amar is told by khalidi as follows:

On the morning of 2 January 1948, Arab workers at the large British army camp in Sarafand discovered twelve timed charges set to explode at noon, a time when they would have been lined up to collect their weekly wages. The Palestinian newspaper Filastin noted that none of the Jewish workers in the camp had reported to work that day, implying that they had been warned by Zionist groups responsible for the attack.

A party of Haganah sappers carried out a raid on Sarafand on 15 April 1948. The attackers penetrated “deep in Arab territory,” according to a New York Times report, and demolished a three-storey building. The British authorities stated that 16 people were killed and 12 wounded int he ruins of the building. A statement by the attackers charged that the building was used by militia forces led by Shaykh Hasan Salama, the Palestinian guerrilla commander of the Jaffa district, and that 39 people were killed in the raid.

As the British army evacuated Palestine in mid-May, it allowed Arab forces to take over the army camp, which covered about 500 acres. Israeli foreign minister Moshe Shertok (Sharett) was quoted by the New York Times as saying that Jewish institutions had purchased the camp, but that is was handed over to the Arabs nevertheless. According to the History of the War of Independence, the army outpost was handed over to Arab forces on 14 May. The “small, semi-regular” Arab unit positioned there was driven out five days later by a two-pronged attack from the southeast and north; the Arab unit’s defensive formation had been prepared only for an attack from the adjacent settlement of Rishon le-Tziyyon (to the west). The account adds that “the outpost fell into our hands without any casualties.” The Associated Press quoted unnamed Zionist sources as saying that they had made a profit of $2.5 million by capturing it. That was the sum they had reportedly offered (but never paid) for the former British camp. The same sources said that they were hoping to take advantage of the camps’ facilities to house 20,000 new Jewish immigrants.

Sarafand al-‘Amar was probably occupied during the night of 19-20 May 1948 by the Second Battalion of the Israeli army’s Giv’ati Brigade. That places the occupation ofthe village within the scope of Operation Barak, Giv’ati’s May offensive in the al-Ramla area (see al-Batani al-Gharbi, Gaza District). The residents of the village probably fled or were evicted at teh same time. (411-412)

ford motor company in occupied sarafand al 'amar, palestine
ford motor company in occupied sarafand al \’amar, palestine
zionist terrorist colonist army and air force base in occupied sarafand al 'amar, palestine
zionist terrorist colonist army and air force base in occupied sarafand al \’amar, palestine

the next village, one we also checked out last week, was one we couldn’t see evidence of either as it was in a jnf forest. but rather than go in the side we tested last week i drove around to the other side, which was a good thing. خربة القبيبه (khirbat al-qubeiba) didn’t have a ton of information on it on palestine remembered or in khalidi’s book which made things challenging. but the map was clear in abu sitta’s book. we heard somewhere that there might be an old palestinian home in or as a restaurant now so we pulled into a parking lot on the other side of the forest. we didn’t notice anything in the restaurant, but on our way there, on the top of the hill, we saw houses and we hiked up a hill to reach that area. the area we reached had a number of destroyed or partially destroyed palestinian homes. and a ton of old trees mixed in with the jnf planted trees in their attempt to cover up their crimes. it was an amazing discovery and the young boy from the village was pleased with what he found and with the bits of carob he collected from the village trees.

destroyed palestinian home in khirbat al qubeiba
destroyed palestinian home in khirbat al qubeiba
destroyed palestinian home in khirbat al qubeiba
destroyed palestinian home in khirbat al qubeiba

the final village of the day was really far north in the district of haifa. صبارين (sabbarin) has two settlements on his land and vast fertile farmland. there is very little left to see here, however. what we found in this village were modern zionist terrorist colonist houses built in part with stones from old palestinian houses. there is no information in khalidi about the ethnic cleansing of the village, but pappe has a reference to it in relation to the area more generally:

Here, too, the Irgun contributed its share of the continued destruction of Palestine’s countryside. They completed the vengeful attack on the remaining villages in Marj Ibn Amir, while the British Mandate troops were still there: Sabbarin, Sindiyana, Barieka, Khubbeiza, and Umm al-Shauf. Some of the people in these villages fled under the heavy mortar fire of the attacking forces, while others who waved white flags signaling surrender were instantly exiled. In Sabbarin, the Irgun bandits, angered by the fact that they encountered some armed resistance, as punishment kept the women, old men and children confined for a few days within barbed wire–very much like the cages in which Palestinians today are kept for hours at checkpoints in the West Bank when they fail to present the right permits. Seven young Palestinian men found carrying arms were executed on the spot by Jewish troops, who then expelled the rest of the villagers to Umm al-Fahm, then not yet in Jewish hands. (108)

we found a number of fruit and vegetable orchards as well as olive groves on the land, some which seemed like they were the original trees. but it was disappointing to see so little remaining among the farms and settlements on the stolen land of sabbarin, especially after discovering the homes in khirbat al qubeiba. since these four villages took us so long and we were so far north we went to a felafel restaurant in the wadi ara’a area before heading back to the church.

zionist terrorist colonist house in occupied sabbarin, palestine
zionist terrorist colonist house in occupied sabbarin, palestine
zionist terrorist colonist house using the stones from old palestinian homes in occupied sabbarin
zionist terrorist colonist house using the stones from old palestinian homes in occupied sabbarin
occupied sabbarin, palestine
occupied sabbarin, palestine

i had to head back to deheishe to buy some more food (as i had to do a few nights that week so as not to buy food from zionist terrorist colonists). as we drove in through the checkpoint we noticed that on the 1948 side of the checkpoint that zionist terrorist army jeeps were pulling people over near al qabu and looking at papers as they were at the checkpoint. we decided to wait for a few hours before smuggling the next person in. we managed to get through, however, we were stopped by the police somewhere near beit natif, as were all the cars, for some sort of routine car check. amazingly we didn’t get caught there as they only wanted my papers. i had seen such a checkpoint outside zakariya when i came back at 3 am a couple of nights before, but i didn’t realize what it was at the time. one of our buses got pulled over with the kids at one point this week for the same thing. thank god no one got caught.

when we arrived back at the camp the kids were having a carnival of sorts. they started off with a palestinian trivia game about refugees and camps in the region. it was boys against girls (though i do not recall who won). there were also a number of camp games and what i think was the world’s first laban eating contest. there was lots of drumming and singing and i think it was a great way to end our last full night at the camp.

day five

the last day of camp had us setting off to see the villages rather early in the morning as we had afternoon workshops we had to get back for. we rearranged some of the villages after noticing some were occupied by orthodox jewish settlements and we didn’t want buses full of kids going in there on a saturday. so that meant i had to go back to two of those villages on the last day.

i started with بيت محسير (beit mahsir) which is not only huge, but also encompasses a forest, mountains, and a settlement. anyone who has ever driven on highway 1 from yaffa to al quds has seen two beit mahsir houses on the right-hand side of the road right after you pass by latrun (across from a gas station). but there are others on the top of the mountain inside the settlement. we tried first to drive into a forest from the highway to see if that is how to reach those houses on the highway, but we had no luck. so we went up to the colony and drove inside. there we saw palestinian houses mixed in with those built by zionist terrorist colonists. there were some we saw at a glance as the orthodox jews were still out and about on sunday and walked towards us as we tried to reach one area where we saw palestinian homes. on the way back to the next village we managed to see the homes from across the road, though i still do not know how to get behind them so as to get closer on foot.

there is quite an extensive history of beit mahsir in several sources, including khalidi, who says of the depopulation of the village:

Although the village was targeted for occupation during Operation Nachson (see Bayt Naqquba, Jerusalem District), in early April 1948, it was not taken until the first half of May. In the wake of Nachson, the Haganah launched a series of attacks in an attempt to widen their corridor to Jerusalem and capture the strategic al-Latrun salient. Bayt Mahsir fell during Operation Makkabi (see Khirbat Bayt Far, al-Ramla District) to the newly-formed Hare’el Brigade of the Palmach. The History of the Hagannah states that “this village was not occupied easily; but was attacked by Palmach troops for three nights, and it was not occupied until the morning of 11 May.” The account states merely that the occupiers found booty taken from Haganah military convoys ambushed in the area; no mention is made of the fate of the villagers. The New York Times reported that two commando battalions of the Palmach were involved in the thirty-six hour battle. After “tentative thrusts” on 9 May, the Sixth Palmach Battalion (some 400 to 500 men) seized strong points around the village at 11:00 PM that night. The Arab forces withdrew; that night, they launched a counterattack that lasted for two days. On 12 May, they claimed to have recaptured Bayt Mahsir, but their hold ont he village apparently was not firm.

The Arab Liberation Army’s (ALA) Qadisiyya Battalion was defending the village, and ALA commander Fawzi al-Qawuqji described the situation from the Arab side. On 9 May, he reported that they had “replled a violent Jewish attack on Bayt Mahsir aimed at opening the Jerusalem road.” The following day, the commanding officer at Bayt Mahsir, Lt. Col. Mahdi Salih, cabled to say that the situation was “critical.” Qawuqji sent one of two reserve battalions to the area, which helped to encircle a large detachment of Jewish forces in the area. On 11 May, these forces were said to be withdrawing and ALA units had captured the woods near the village. But on 12 May, Qawuqji informed the High Command that “Jewish forces coming from Jerusalem and outskirts succeeded in entering Bayt Mahsir thanks to the large reinforcements with all kinds of equipment which arrived constantly.” He indicates that the village was recovered the same day through artillery bombardment and a frontal attack. However, the recovery of the village ws probably short-lived. Soon afterwards, Bayt Mahsir was captured and systematically levelled after occupation, according to Israeli historian Benny Morris.

In late March, the New York Times reported that the village had been occupied briefly by British army units. Together with Ishwa’ and ‘Artuf, Bayt Mahsir had withstood a British assault following an Arab attack on the Jewish settlement of Hartuv nearby. (276-277)

entrance to the zionist terrorist colony of beit me'ir on the land of beit mahsir, palestine
entrance to the zionist terrorist colony of beit me\’ir on the land of beit mahsir, palestine
palestinian home in occupied beit mahsir
palestinian home in occupied beit mahsir
old palestinian home in occupied beit mahsir, palestine
old palestinian home in occupied beit mahsir, palestine

it is unfortunate, but for those youth whose villages are largely occupied by zionist terrorist colonists now spending much of the village trip is safer in a car than by foot. this was true with beit mahsir and also artuf, the next village we went to. عرتوف (artuf) was similar to beit mahsir in the sense that there are palestinian homes mixed in with the zionist terrorist colonist houses. but at the front gate of the settlement there is also a palestinian home which has a zionist terrorist colonist house annexed to the front of it.

here is what khalidi says about the ethnic cleansing of artuf:

It was not until mid-July that ‘Artuf (and a number of other villages in the Jerusalem area) was actually depopulated. It was occupied during the second phase of Operation Dani (see Abu al-Fadl, Al-Ramla District) by the Fourth Battalion of the Har’el Brigade. According to the History of the War of Independence and Israeli historian Benny Morris, this occurred during the night of 17-18 July 1948. The offensive is described by Morris as follows: “Much of the population of these villages…had left the area previously. Most of the remaining population fled with the approach of the Har’el columns and with the start of mortar brigades. The handful of people who remained at each site when the Israelis entered were expelled.” The Second Platoon of B Company (of the Fourth Battalion), armed with mortars and machine guns, first pushed out the inhabitants of nearby Ishwa’ and ‘Islin; then they moved toward ‘Artuf. Aiming their mortars at the police station west of ‘Artuf, they lobbed explosives at both the station and the village. This night time bombardment convinced the villagers to flee. This night-time bombardment convinced the villagers to flee. Most of them walked three miles up the slopes toward the village of Dayr al-Hawa, to the south east. The first Israeli troops to tenter the village, ont he day after its depopulation,w ere members of a platoon commanded by Rafael Eytan. (260)

entrance to zionist terrorist colony of nacham on the land of artuf, palestine
entrance to zionist terrorist colony of nacham on the land of artuf, palestine
zionist terrorist colonist's house built onto a palestinian house in artuf
zionist terrorist colonist\’s house built onto a palestinian house in artuf

البريج (al burayj) was even more difficult in some ways than the other villages with settlements on the land. this one had not only a colony, but also an enormous military base. we could see a watch tower in the distance (in one of the images below). just as there is not a great deal of evidence of palestinian life in al burayj, there is also not a lot of detail with respect to its depopulation. here is what khalidi says about it:

Al-Burayj was probably captured during the first phase of Operation ha-Har (see ‘Allar, Jerusalem District). The village fell some time between 19 and 24 October 1948, as Israeli forces moved to occupy a number of village in the southern part of the Jerusalem corridor. (282)

while there wasn’t too much of palestinian life there was an amazing orchard full of plums that we filled bags up with for the boy from burayj to take home and share with his family. but a number of the trees, for instance the olive trees, were newly planted and not palestinian olive trees, yet another example of how the zionist terrorist colonists constantly seek to destroy all forms of life.

zionist terrorist military base on the land of al burayj, palestine
zionist terrorist military base on the land of al burayj, palestine
they destroy olive trees too, here in al burayj (and then replant them with the help of diaspora zionists)
they destroy olive trees too, here in al burayj (and then replant them with the help of diaspora zionists)

the last village we visited on the trip i messed up big time. i read the map incorrectly. it seemed to me at the time that بيت عطاب (beit itab) was across the street from deir al-hawa. i studied the map again last night and realized that this was incorrect. where we were, it was still deir al-hawa. but these are the villages that were destroyed to make room for the american independence park that i wrote last week before i left for camp (see post below) so it is a bit challenging to figure out where the borders are. there is a settlement, nes harim on part of the village land, but this is only a small part of it. if i had gone a kilometer more and into the settlement we would have been in the right place. we would have seen a crusader castle and almond, carob, and olive trees, as well as cacti. there was already a group who visited beit itab, but one of the older youth leaders who i smuggled in illegally to 1948 palestine was from this village and he was with me on the day they went to his village so i wanted to take him. because it was so difficult to get him out i cannot stop kicking myself for f*&#$%) this up so royally. i was so excited that we had found a house and two wells that i guess i had hoped and imagined that we were in the right place. so the photos below are of دير الهوا (deir al hawa) instead.

in any case, here is what khalidi has to say about the ethnic cleansing of bayt itab:

Bayt ‘Itab was one of a string of villages in the Jerusalem corridor that was captured following the second truce of the war. Israeli historian Benny Morris writes that it was occupied on 21 October 1948, during Operation ha-Har (see ‘Allar, Jerusalem District). The operation was complimentary to Operation Yo’av (see Barbara, Gaza District), a simultaneous offensive o the southern front htat aimed at thrusting southwards into the Negev. (275)

palestinian home in deir al hawa (what i mistakenly thought was beit itab)
palestinian home in deir al hawa (what i mistakenly thought was beit itab)
palestinian well in deir al hawa
palestinian well in deir al hawa
entrance to deir al hawa, palestine
entrance to deir al hawa, palestine

we returned to camp for our final workshops–one on the legal issues related to the right of return and another on how to use hip hop as a method of communicating these narratives of an nakba and the right of return that the rap group dam conducted. then it was time for cleaning up the church, packing, and heading home, again in shifts, as i had to do separate smuggling trips. we all made it back safely, and have been catching up on sleep. but now we have a meeting in a bit for the next phase of the project.

right of return workshop
right of return workshop
dam workshop
dam workshop
haq al awda!
haq al awda!

zionist narratives of palestinian land

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navigating palestine can be a difficult task given that the land has been so judaized so that villages are covered up with forests and colonies and the names altered so as to cover up the crimes committed by zionists over the years. one of the people who has eased this process is salman abu sitta whose book the return journey: a guide to the depopulated and present palestinian towns and villages and holy sites is an indispensable tool. this book, which has all the necessary place names in hebrew, arabic, and english maps palestinian villages onto a zionist colonist map to aid people in finding the remnants of palestinian villages as well as navigating zionist roads. this book, along with walid khalidi’s all that remains and the palestine remembered website, enable one to uncover these villages that one day palestinian refugees will return to. since i’ve spent the better part of this week driving around 1948 palestine mapping palestinian villages for a project i’m involved with i thought i’d share some of the more egregious things i’ve seen.

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the map pictured at the top of this post is a page taken from the return journey. it is the page for my friend’s mother’s village, المغار or al maghar, which proved quite difficult to find nonetheless because of the colony of beyt el’azari on its land. there are a number of colonies in the area, or settlements, which even the zionist terrorist colonists call them inside 1948 palestine as this photograph below shows. this colony was also on the land or next to the land of al maghar as well as the village of qatra, which is next to al maghar. sometimes the zionist terrorist colonists make names that sound similar, which makes it a bit easier to find. but once you find the area the next task is to find remnants of palestinian life that the zionist terrorist colonists have covered up.

gederot settlement on the land of qatra
gederot settlement on the land of qatra

in this area in the ramla district of palestine there were a number of ways that palestinian life was covered up. for one thing, the orange groves that my friend’s mom always talks about were hidden from the road and locked up with a gate by zionists who seem to feel ashamed or fearful of having stolen these orange groves. thus the street is lined with trees they planted to make it more difficult to find them.

hidden orange groves in qatra
hidden orange groves in qatra

likewise there are checkpoints within these colonies, often gated, often with guards, to keep non colonists out. and oftentimes one can find a prison or army base inside as in these photographs here. sound familiar? is this any different than on the other side of the so-called “green line”? these are colonies too. or “settlements” as the zionist terrorist colonists call them and yet i don’t hear anyone talking about freezing these. nor do i hear them talking about removing any of these colonies. and yet for me they remain the major stumbling block as maintaining these settlements or colonies prevents the palestinian refugees from returning to their villages and their land.

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one reason that these settlement colonies erase palestinian history is so that they can re-write it in a way that specifically asserts their own presence in palestine, which manipulates and perverts the historical record. the picture below is a perfect example of this. it is posted on the sea wall in yaffa and it says:

The fortified walls around Jaffa have been known since the Byzantine, Crusader, and Ottoman periods.

The part of the North-Western fortifications which were revealed here, protected the city from naval invasion by foreign armies and pirates.

This section of the wall is part of the sea wall formation revealed by the Israeli Antiquities Authority, in the Jaffa port and to its North.

The North-Western sea-wall came out of use during the 19th century.

notice that the words palestine or palestinians are never mentioned in the text even though this is the population and place discussed in it. by omission and by asserting that one of the zionist colonist agencies is responsible for “revealing” the wall, they are implying that this is their wall.

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sometimes when one is driving in 1948 palestine one is lucky and can see the old palestinian homes from the road as with the village of عجّور or ajjur. there is a colony on their land that is gated, and the big house in the photograph below is inhabited by zionist terrorist colonists, but one can see what remains of this village clearly from a main road.

ajjur village
ajjur village

in اللد or lydd, which is a city in which some palestinians still live–both those who are from lydd and internal refugees from other cities like yaffa who are not allowed to return to their homes, and where zionist terrorist colonists also live on palestinian land, one can see a prominent poster supporting the zionist terrorism of meir kahane’s kach movement (also known as the jewish defense league in the united states), which even the united states designates as a terrorist organization. one usually sees his poster around places like khalil, but he’s apparently popular in lydd, too.

pro-kach sign in lydd, palestine
pro-kach sign in lydd, palestine

in دير آبان or deir aban i found a zionist terrorist colonist’s restaurant on the land of the palestinian village with a ton of palestinian homes on the hill just above his establishment. i find it rather amazing that one can live among this living testimony to the fact that their presence here is only because of the ethnic cleansing that took place and continues to take place. there is no escaping it in villages like deir aban.

zionist colonist terrorist restaurant on the land of deir aban
zionist colonist terrorist restaurant on the land of deir aban

one of the most horrifying features of the ethnic cleansing of palestine is the jewish national fund’s park system that conceals palestinian villages. in the jerusalem area there is the begin national forest that covers up the villages of القبو or el qabu and رأس أبو عمار or ras abu ammar. and then there is the american independence park. this enormous park covers up the villages of خربة اللوز or khirbat el loz, صطاف or sataf, دير الشيخ or deir al sheikh, دير الهوا or deir al hawa, بيت عطاب or beit itab, and سفلى or sufla. there are a number of signs around the park showing who funded it–zionists like brandon and lily tartikoff–and others whose names i did not recognize. i posted one such sign below at the information center we stumbled upon today. that center had a ton of brochures and maps for the various parks. the one for the american independence park is so bold as to mark on it the villages of safla, deir al sheikh, beit itab, and safla. there is large hebrew version at the information center (see below) and a legend of items of note that correspond to it. in the numbers that correspond to palestinian destroyed villages they even mark them as such (see close up in hebrew of deir al sheikh below). here is what the brochure we found in english says:

American Independence Park stretches over some 30,000 dunums on the northwestern slopes of the Judean Mountains, along the road arteries forged by KKL-JNF from Mehasiya junction near Beit Shemesh to Bar Giora junction and from Bar Giora, Tzur Hadassah and the HaEla Valley. Mount Ya’ale ridge, Nahal Sorek nature preserve and the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv railway line are north of the park and the Sansan ridge to the south.

American Independence Park was made possible through the generosity of partners and friends of KKL-JNF in the United States. KKL-JNF began developing the park with the help of friends of JNF of America in 1976, to coincide with the bicentennial of American Independence and to mark the friendship between the two freedom-loving countries. The park was developed in an area planted with trees in the 1950s by new immigrant residents of the area and adjoining Beit Shemesh who arrived int he country with the establishment of the State of Israel.

certainly i don’t dispute the relations between the u.s. and the zionist entity, but what they have in common is not freedom, but colonialism. i would love to see what american indians think of such a name and the notion of “american independence” in this context in particular.

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the palestinian village deir al sheikh as "historic site"
brought to you, in part, by...
brought to you, in part, by...

ilan pappe has an excellent chapter on the jewish national fund (jnf) parks in his book the ethnic cleansing of palestine entitled “the memoricide of the nakba. he says:

JNF parks do not only offer parking spaces, picnic areas, playgrounds and access to nature, but also incorporate visible items that tell a particular history: the ruins of a house, a fortress, orchards, cactuses (sabra), and so on. There are also many fig and almond trees. Most Israelis think these are “wild” figs or “wild” almonds, as they see them in full bloom, towards the end of winter, heralding the beauty of spring. But these fruit trees were planted and nurtured by human hands. Wherever almond and fig trees, or olive groves or clusters of cactuses are found, there once stood a Palestinian village: still blossoming afresh each year, these trees are all that remain. Near the now-uncultivated terraces, and under the picnic tables, and the European pine forests, there lie buried the houses and fields of the Palestinians whom Israeli troops expelled in 1948. However, guided only by these JNF signs, visitors will never realise that people used to live there–the Palestinians who now reside as refugees in the Occupied Territories, as second-rate citizens inside Israel, and as camp dwellers beyond Palestine’s border.

The true mission of the JNF, in other words, has been to conceal these visible remnants of Palestine not only by the trees it has planted over them, but also by the narratives it has created to deny their existence. Whether on the JNF website or in the parks themselves, the most sophisticated audio-visual equipment displays the official Zionist story, contextualizing any given location within the national meta-narrative of the Jewish people and Eretz Israel. This version continues to spout the familiar myths of the narrative–Palestine as an “empty” and “arid” land before the arrival of Zionism–that Zionism employs to supplant all history that contradicts its own invented Jewish past.

As Israel’s given “green lungs,” these recreational sites do not so much commemorate history as seek to totally erase it. Through the literature the JNF attaches to the items that are still visible from before 1948 a local history is intentionally denied. This is not part of a need to tell a different story in its own right, but is designed to annihilate all memory of the Palestinian villages that these “green lungs” have replaced. (228-229)

the jnf website that pappe refers to is particularly appalling. on first glance one might think that this is a site dedicated to ecology, the environment, and conservation if one did not understand the historical irony that led to the creation of these forests (and if you are a jew living in the west you likely have contributed to the creation of these forests every time someone planted a tree in your name). ironically pappe shows just how these forests run counter to any notion of environmental conservation:

The three aims of keeping the country Jewish, European-looking, and Green quickly fused into one. This is why forests throughout Israel today include only eleven per cent of indigenous species and why a mere ten per cent of all forests date from before 1948. At times, the original flora manages to return in surprising ways. Pine trees were planted not only over bulldozed houses, but also over fields and olive groves. In the new development town of Migdal Ha-Emek, for example, the JNF did its utmost to try and cover the ruins of the Palestinian village of Mujaydil, at the town’s eastern entrance, with rows of pine trees, not a proper forest in this case but just a small wood. Such “green lungs” can be found in many of Israel’s development towns that cover destroyed Palestinian villages (Tirat Hacarmel over Tirat Haifa, Qiryat Shemona over Khalsa, Ashkelon over Majdal, etc.). But this particular species failed to adapt to the local soil and, despite repeated treatment, disease kept afflicting the trees. Later visits by relatives of some of Mujaydial’s original villagers, revealed that some of the pine trees had literally split in two and how, in the middle of their broken trunks, olive trees had popped up in defiance of the alien flora planted over them fifty-six years ago. (227-228)

with respect to the parks in the areas of the district of al quds that i was visiting today, the jnf forests and their zionist narratives are explained by pappe as follows:

The JNF website here promises its visitors unique sites and special experiences in a forest whose historical remnants “testify to intensive agricultural activity.” More specifically, it highlights the various terraces one finds carved out along the western slopes: as in all other sites, these terraces are always “ancient”–even when they were shaped by Palestinian villagers less than two or three generations ago.

The last geographical site is the destroyed Palestinian village of Sataf, located in one of the most beautiful spots high up in the Jerusalem Mountains. The site’s greatest attraction, according to the JNF website, is the reconstruction it offers of “ancient” (kadum in Hebrew) agriculture–the adjective “ancient” is used for every single detail in this site: paths are “ancient,” steps are “ancient,” and so on. Sataf, in fact, was a Palestinian village expelled and mostly destroyed in 1948. For the JNF, the remains of the village are one more station visitors encounter on the intriguing walking tours it has set out for them within this “ancient site.” The mixture here of Palestinian terraces and the remains of four or five Palestinian buildings almost fully intact inspired the JNF to create a new concept, the “bustanof” (“bustan” plus “nof,” the Hebrew word for panorama, the English equivalent for which would probably be something like “bustaorama” or “orchard view”). The concept is wholly original to the JNF.

The bustans overlook some exquisite scenery and are popular with Jerusalem’s young professional class who come here to experience “ancient” and “biblical” ways of cultivating a plot of land that may even yield some “biblical” fruits and vegetables. Needless to say, these ancient ways are far from “biblical” but are Palestinian, as are the plots and the bustans and the place itself.

In Sataf the JNF promises the more adventurous visitors a “Secret Garden” and an “Elusive Spring,” two gems they can discover among terraces that are a “testimony to human habitation 6,000 years ago culminating in the period of the Second Temple.” This is not exactly how these terraces were described in 1949 when Jewish immigrants from Arab countries were sent to repopulate the Palestinian village and take over the houses that had remained standing. Only when these new settlers proved unmanageable did the JNF decide to turn the village into a tourist site.

At the time, in 1949, Israel’s naming committee searched for a biblical association for the place, but failed to find any connection to Jewish sources. They then hit upon the idea of associating the vineyard that surrounded the village with the vineyards mentioned int he biblical Psalms and Song of Songs. For a while they even invented a name for the place to suit their fancy, “Bikura”–the early fruit of the summer–but gave it up again as Israelis had already got used to the name Sataf.

The JNF website narrative and the information offered on the various boards set up at the locations themselves is also widely available elsewhere. There has always been a thriving literature in Israel catering for domestic tourism where ecological awareness, Zionist ideology and erasure of the past often go hand in hand. The encyclopedias, tourist guides and albums generated for the purpose appear even more popular and are in greater demand today than ever before. In this way, the JNF “ecologises” the crimes of 1948 in order for Israel to tell one narrative and erase another. As Walid Khalidi has put in his forceful style: “It is a platitude of historiography that the victors in war get away with both the loot and the version of events.”

Despite the deliberate airbrushing of history, the fate of the villages that lie buried under the recreational parks in Israel is intimately linked to the future of the Palestinian families who once lived there and who now, almost sixty years later, still reside in refugee camps and faraway diasporic communities. The solution of the Palestinian refugee problem remains the key to any just and lasting settlement of the conflict in Palestine: for closet to sixty years now the Palestinians have remained steadfast as a nation in their demand to have their legal rights acknowledged, above all their Right of Return, originally granted to them by the United Nations in 1948. They continue to confront an official Israeli policy of denial and anti-repatriation that seems only to have hardened over the same period. (232-234)

below are images of the village of sataf that i took today. anyone who knows anything about palestinian architecture knows that these stairs and homes are palestinian.

sataf, palestine
sataf, palestine

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the final village we went to tonight was al walaja or الولجة . i have seen part of this village before as a checkpoint on my way home cuts the village into two as will the apartheid wall when it is completed. whenever i take this road home i see all of the old palestinian homes with zionist terrorist colonists picnicking and wading in the well, but palestinians from this village, of course, cannot do the same. they are refugees and not allowed on their land–even the side that is on the “west bank” side of the checkpoint. we were looking for another part of walaja today and perhaps we found it. we drove up a dirt road, which is usually the first indication that you’re heading towards a palestinian village. up the road we found a parking lot, which was rather crowded for dusk. we soon discovered that zionist terrorist colonists were celebrating a wedding on the ruins and blood of the villagers of walaja.

but this was par for the course. what we saw as we walked up the path was an entire recreated “roman village” on the ruins of a palestinian village. much as pappe explains above, this village tries to root zionists in this land by somehow connecting themselves to the romans and thus creating some bogus narrative of continuity. they had a section on agriculture, pottery, mosaics, baking bread, and it is all set up like those colonial villages we have in the united states to narrate away the ethnic cleansing and genocide american colonists did to the american indians. same story, same narrative, same methods of concealment. below you’ll see photographs of signs, fake donkeys and shepherds showing the methods of irrigation or farming, and “roman” agricultural tools on display. just when you think they cannot sink to new lows they invent new ways of erasing the past and trampling on palestinian history, rights, and people.

"roman site" on the palestinian village of walaja

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fake donkey with shepherd
fake donkey with shepherd

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archaeological dig site in the palestinian village of walaja
archaeological dig site in the palestinian village of walaja

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.

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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.

on boycotting nestlé

Picture 3

as if we needed another reason to boycott nestle (known as osem in the zionist entity) along comes evidence that it is attached directly to the israeli terrorist forces:

The global Nestle food company is, for the first time in its history, producing a new breakfast cereal in the southern Israeli town of Sderot.

The new cereal was developed in Israel and is based on a technology that was originally developed for the production of Osem’s nougat-filled Bamba snack.

The new cereal will be named Crunch Rolls Nougat and is composed of cylindrical-shaped cereal filled with nougat.

The development of the technology began at Nestle’s research and development center in Sderot some seven years ago.

The technology, that is registered as a global patent, allows for the first time ever, the inflation of a corn or cereal product in the shape of a cylinder with open sides, through which the filling can be seen.

Up until now, Nestle has not produced any food products in Israel, and its products are imported to Israel by Osem.

It seems that the sweeping success of Bamba Nougat has prompted Nestle, one of the world’s leading breakfast cereal producers, to implement the new technology in its products as well.

Osem’s nougat-filled Bamba was born at the request of soldiers who would eat Bamba with chocolate paste. The project was initially launched in a limited edition as a marketing campaign, but quickly became a hit.

In the first stages, the new cereal will be sold in Israel and was expected to be on shelves this week. The company also plans to market the new product around the world.

nestle/osem in najd, palestine (colony of sderot)
nestle/osem in najd, palestine (colony of sderot)

together against tyranny lists some of the many additional reasons to boycott nestle such as (click link below for footnotes/documentation):

Nestle owns over half of the Osem Group, Israel’s giant food manufacturer, and has immensely aided in the growth and development of the subsidiary company in Israel, including promoting Osem’s international trade via Nestle’s own distribution channels.

The Nestle Purina Israel, Director and Corporate Executive at Osem Investment Ltd and CEO of Osem International Ltd., Gad Propper, is the Chairman of the Israel-European Union Chamber of Commerce.

He is also Chairman of L’Oreal Israel, 30% owned by L’Oreal,another prominent supporter of Israel.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Nestle’s CEO since 1997, was awarded the Jubilee Award by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the highest tribute ever awarded by the “State of Israel” in recognition of those individuals and organizations, that through their investments and trade relationships, have done the most to strengthen the Israeli economy.

Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, CEO of Nestle, is also on the Board of Directors of L’Oreal, that has a history of breaking laws to support Israel. He is also a director of Credit Suisse, which is a board member of the Swiss-Israeli Chamber of Commerce. Brabeck-Letmathe is also on the foundation board of the World Economic Forum (WEC), which in 2006 removed from its Global Agenda Magazine an article that called for a peaceful boycott of Israel until it complied to international law and human rights. In contrast to the WEC’s promotion of peaceful free speech, the article was said to be “totally in contradiction to … the Forum’s mission and values”.

Nestlé, the world’s largest food company, set up their R&D Center in Israel (greatly enhancing Israel through their technical know-how, expertise and distribution channels). This R&D center was built on Sderot – stolen and illegally occupied Palestinian land that was once a town called Najd. The presence of Nestle’s plant effectively sabotages the Palestinians’ right to return as stated by UN Resolution 194 and also the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 13, Section 2.

Nestle and Osem own over half of the goodwill and assets of Israel’s largest infant formula producer, Materna.

Through Osem, Nestle invests heavily in Israel’s development, such as $80m in new salad plants, logistics centers for distribution, development labs, and so on.

Nestle also partners with JNF through Osem. JNF is one of the foremost Zionist organizations that for decades has persistently uprooted Palestinians and destroyed their villages and towns to make way for Israel’s illegal expansion and occupation.

palestinian village of najd, 1948 palestine (colony of sderot)
palestinian village of najd, 1948 palestine (colony of sderot)

the images here are of the nestle/osem company on the village of najd, which houses the zionist terrorist colony of sderot on which ariel sharon owns a farm and which he buried his wife on land which used to be a palestinian muslim cemetery.

lily sharon (ariel sharon's wife) buried on top of a muslim cemetery, najd, palestine
lily sharon (ariel sharon's wife) buried on top of a muslim cemetery, najd, palestine

here are a few important facts from the lebanon boycott group about why one should boycott nestle:

* In 1997, Nestle invested 10% in the Israeli food company, Osem. It soon increased its ownership to 50.1% of the company, ie. the controlling share.

* Nestle-Osem runs several factories and research centers in Jewish-only settlements on lands confiscated from Palestinians.

* Nestle’s main Israeli site is in Sderot, a settlement that was founded near Gaza in 1951 to accommodate an influx of Sephardic Jews and to spread Jewish presence uniformly throughout Israel.

* Sderot is built on the lands of the Palestinian town Najd, which was ethnically cleansed in 1948.

* Today Sderot is home to 23,000 Jewish immigrants from Morocco, Ethiopia, and the former Soviet Union, half of whom came in the last ten years.

* Now a “development zone” in the words of the Israeli state, Sderot lacks basic facilities that make for a comfortable living. With a 10% unemployment rate among adults, a full 30% of the children living in Sderot depend on charity. 25% of the recent immigrants’ children do not finish school.

* Nestle-Osem runs a 700 m2 factory in Sderot, and in 2002 the company opened a 1,700 m2 research and development (R&D) center there.

* The Research & Development center in Sderot is considered particularly beneficial to Osem’s growth as it “gives [Osem] advantages in technological know-how and increased export opportunities through Nestle’s distribution network.”

* Nestle’s Sderot R&D also contributes to the development of Israeli education: “Schools receive assistance through the Join the Industry project which introduces various aspects of Israeli industry to the classroom. Senior managers visit schools and teach classes about their industry. Schools are also welcome to visit the Company’s factories. Students receive guidance from Osem’s executives.”

* In 2002, Nestle received a grant from the Israeli government for 24% of the cost of its Sderot research center. The Israeli government gives such grants to companies that can help it transform social problem sites into nice places to live.

* Building in development zones also means building over the remains of Palestinian habitation.

 When the old stone buildings and stubborn cactus plants are covered over, so, too, it is hoped, will be the grounds for the Palestinian Right of Return.

* In total, Nestle-Osem currently has over 4000 Israeli employees at 11 plants, with the following all in “development zones”: A Factory and an R&D at Sderot (Najd); A Tzabar Salads (an Osem subsidiary) plant in Kiryat Gat (Al-Faluja and Iraq al-Manshiyya); A ready-baked cakes factory in Ahihud; A logistics center in Nachsholim (Tantoura)

* How did Tantoura “develop” into Nachsholim?

* According to Israeli historian Teddi Katz, a major massacre in 1948 forced Palestinians to flee Tantoura. The mosque and graveyard of Tantoura were later ploughed and transformed into a sea-side parking lot for Nachsholim…. Do Nestle employees park there?

* As for Kiryat Gat, it is founded on the Palestinian villages of Al-Faluja and Iraq al-Manshiyya. Iraq al-Manshiyya’s cactus and village buildings are barely visible before the factories of Kiryat Gat.

* Al-Faluja was in Arab hands until 1949 when it was handed over to Israel through a UN armistice on the condition that “those of the civilian population who may wish to remain … are to be permitted to do so. . . . All of these civilians shall be fully secure in their persons, abodes, property and personal effects.” “Arab civilians . . . at Al-Faluja have been beaten and robbed by Israeli soldiers….” and “[the Israelis] were firing promiscuously” on the Arab population.” — Ralph Bunche, UN Observer, 1949

* “Nowadays we’d call the Al-Faluja events ethnic cleansing.” Noting that native Americans won compensation in several major cases once Congress adopted procedures for dealing with such claims, [the lawyer] said, “It sounds as if there’s potential in the long run for recovery here.” –Henry Norr

* Many companies active inside ‘48 enjoy low-skilled Palestinian labor because it is advantageous to use a captive resident population that is at once socially deprived (no insurance or union), politically oppressed, and able to provide its own food and board.


* What about the Nestle factory in Karni, Gaza? Human rights organization, Btselem has reported that PA area factories host even harsher conditions and less respect for employee rights.

* In sum, Nestle: builds on stolen Palestinian lands; covers up the ruins; provides jobs and opportunities that realize the Zionist goal of a purely Jewish presence in Israel; then sells the products of such an apartheid system abroad so that the Israeli economy can flourish

* No wonder Nestle received in 1998 the Jubilee Award, “the highest tribute ever awarded by the State of Israel in recognition of those individuals and organizations, that through their investments and trade relationships, have done the most to strengthen the Israeli economy.”

* Since 1977, Nestle has been the subject of an international boycott for its deceptive promotion of artificial baby milk as a superior alternative to mother’s milk.

* Nestle has attracted criticism for its use of genetically modified ingredients, the safety of which has not been tested.

* Nestle is, also, under attack for allowing its cocoa suppliers in Africa to enslave children.

* In 2000, Nestle donated $20 million to Holocaust reparations funds, because, “As the legal successor of [Nazi] corporations, Nestlé nevertheless accepts its moral responsibility to help alleviate human suffering, all the more so since this injustice was committed in the Company’s domain.”

* We demand that Nestle end its economic and moral support for a racist social system. The company must close its Israeli factories and sell its shares of Osem.

* If Nestle knows that in Sderot/Najd, Kiryat Gat/Iraq al-Manshiyya and Al-Faluja, and Nachsholim/Tantoura it cannot ever produce enough to cover the costs of business lost in the Arab world and abroad, then it will have no choice but to divest from Israel.

* Nestle’s Israeli adventure began only after the thawing of the Arab boycott in 1993, so let the company know that our objections to Israel have not been reduced by the “peace process” but rather increased.

* Britain’s largest union, UNISON, and Christian Aid, a major Christian activist group, have decided to boycott Nestle in addition to their general boycott of Israel goods.

* How do we boycott Nestle? Don’t buy: Nescafé, Taster’s Choice, Hills Bros, Cerealac, Nido, Fitness & Fruit, Appleminis, Cheerios, Chocapic Cornflakes, Shreddies, Golden Grahams, Trix, Perrier, Sohat, Vittel, Pure Life, Carnation, Libby’s, Nesquik, Maggi, Buitoni , Milkybar, KitKat, Quality Street, Smarties, Oreo, After Eight, Lion, Aero, Polo, Toll House Morsels, Crunch, L’Oréal, Alcon Eyecare, Mint Royal, Rowntree, Rolo, Minute Maid, Petit Gervals, Contadina, Alpo, Purina, Tidy Cats, Meow Mix, Mighty Dog, Friskies, Felix

nestle in the distance on the land of najd, palestine
nestle in the distance on the land of najd, palestine

for those who want a comprehensive list of nestle products check out this link to nestle’s website where you can see what other brands are a part of nestle/osem. you can also use the site to send a letter telling them why you are choosing to boycott their products. boycotts do not work unless the company is aware of your boycott. it is also worth noting that there is a longstanding boycott of nestle for its practices around the world of encouraging women to stop breastfeeding and use its infant formula instead, which is worth for the health of the baby and often complicated by factors related to unsafe drinking water, which is needed for preparing baby formula.

قطاع نستله

عام 1977 اشترت نستله 10% من شركة ”أوسم“ الاسرائيلية للأغذية. ثم زادت ملكيتها إلى 50.1% من أسهم الشركة المذكورة، بما يتيح لها التحكم فيها

تدير شركة ”نستله-أوسم“ عدة مصانع ومراكز أبحاث في مستوطنات يهودية صرْف صودرت من الفلسطينيين

أهم موقع لشركة نستله في دولة ”اسرائيل“ يقع في سيديروت، وهي مستوطنة أنشئت قرب غزة عام 1951 من أجل إسكان موجة من اليهود الغربيين ولتوزيع اليهود بشكل متجانس على امتداد أراضي الدولة

اليوم يسكن في سيديروت 23 ألف مهاجر يهودي من المغرب وأثيوبيا والاتحاد السوفياتي، نصفهم قدِم إلى هنا في الأعوام العشرة الأخيرة

والآن سيديروت، لكونها ”منطقة تنمية“ كما تسميها دولة ”اسرائيل“، تفتقر إلى التسهيلات الأساسية التي تضمن حياةً مريحةً لساكنيها. فثمة 10% من الراشدين عاطلون عن العمل، و30% من أطفالها يعيشون على الأعمال الخيريّة، و25% من أطفال المهاجرين الجدد لا يُنْهون مدارسَهم

ولكنْ دخلتْ نستله إلى سيديروت:
وهي اليوم تدير مصنعاً هناك مساحته 700 م2 . 
وفي العام 2002 أعلنتْ نيتها فتح ”مركز أبحاث وتنمية“ بمساحة م2 1700 م2

”هذا المركز يُفيد في نموّ شركة أوسم بشكل خاص لأنه يعطيها ”أفضليات الخبرة التقنية وفي زيادة فرص التصدير عبر شبكة توزيع نستله“

كما ان المركز يساهم في نمو قطاع التعليم الاسرائيلي:

”فالمدارس تتلقى المساعدة من خلال برنامج (التحق بالمصنع) الذس يعرِّف الطلاب على جوانب مختلفة من الصناعة الاسرائيلية.
ويزور مديرون من مناصب عالية هذه المدارس ويعلِّمون الصفوف عن تلك الصناعة.

كما يتّم الترحيب بزيارة الطلاب لمصانع الشركة. ويتلقون إرشادات من مديري أوسم.“

عام 2002 تلقّت نستله منحةً من الحكومة الاسرائيلية مقدارها 24% من كلفة مركز أبحاثها في سيديروت. وتعطي الحكومة الاسرائيلية مثل هذه المنح للشركات التي تساعدها على تحويل الأماكن التي تعاني مشاكل اجتماعية إلى أماكن ممتعة للسكن.

بناء المصانع في ”مناطق التنمية“ يعني أيضاً طمس بقايا الحياة الفلسطينية قبل 1948. ولعلّ اسرائيل تأمل في أن يؤدي طمس المباني الحجرية القديمة وشجرات الصبير العنيدة إلى طمس أي مبررات لحقّ الفلسطينيين في العودة.

الخلاصة أن نستله-أوسم توظف أكثر من 4000 اسرائيلي في 11 مصنعاً، فضلاً عن (وكله في مناطق تنمية):

مصنع ومركز أبحاث وتنمية في سيديروت (النجد)

مصنع ل“سلائط كزايبار“ (التابع لأوسم) في كريات غات (الفالوجة وعراق المنشية)
مصنع للحلويات الجاهزة في أحيحود
مصنع لوجستي في ناخشوليم (الطنطورة)

لنتأمل عن كثب ما هو الذي ”تنميه“ نستله تحديداً في الدولة الاسرائيلية

كيف، يا تُرى، ”تطورت“ الطنطورة إلى … ناخشوليم؟

بحسب المؤرخ الاسرائيلي تيدي كاتز، حدثت مجزرة كبرى عام 1948 أجبرت الفلسطينيين على مغادرة الطنطورة.
لاحقاً تم جرف جامع البلدة ومقبرتها، وحوِّلتا إلى موقف للسيارات لبلدة ناخشوليم.

فهل يصّف عمال نستله اليوم سياراتهم هناك؟

أما كريات غات فبنيت على أنقاض بلدتين فلسطينيتين:
الفالوجة وعراق المنشية

صبير عراق المنشية والمباني القديمة لا تكاد تظهر أمام مصانع كريات غات

كانت الفالوجا عربية حتى عام 1949، حين سُلِّمت إلى اسرائيل بموجب هدنة باشراف الأمم المتحدة شرط أن ”يسمح للسكان المدنيين الذين يريدون البقاء بذلك… وسيكون كل هؤلاء المدنيين آمنين تماماً في أرواحهم ومساكنهم وممتلكاتهم…“

لكنّ اسرائيل سرعان ما انتهكت بنود هذه الهدنة المذكورة.

”المدنيين العرب … في الفالوجة ضُربوا وسُلبوا على يد الجنود الاسرائيليين“ وراح هؤلاء يطلقون النار عشوائياً على المواطنين العرب Ralph Bunche, UN Observer, 1949

”اليوم بمقدورنا أن نسمّي أحداث الفالوجة تطهيراً عرقياً“

وقد لاحظ أحد المحامين الأميركيين أن الأميركيين الأصليين كسبوا تعويضات في عدة قضايا كبرى بعد أن تبنّى الكونغرس اجراءات للتعامل مع دعواهم فقال ”يبدو أن هناك إمكانية في المدى البعيد لاسترجاع (الأراضي والأملاك) هنا في (الفالوجة) أيضاً“ (Henry Norr)

والآن ماذا عن مصنع نستله في كارني، غزة

هناك عدة مصانع عاملة في فلسطين 48 تتمتع بيد عاملة فلسطينية ذات مهارات فقيرة، ذلك لأنه من المفيد لهذه المصانع أن تستغل جمهوراً سجيناً، ومحروماً من أية ضمانات صحية أو نقابية، ومسحوقاً سياسياً، بل وعليه أيضاً أن يؤمن بنفسه طعامه ومسكنه!

ذكرت منظمة ”بيتسالم“ لحقوق الانسان أنّ المصانع في مناطق السلطة الفلسطينية تعاني ظروفاً أشدَّ قسوةً وانتهاكاً لحقوق الموظفين من المصانع في مناطق 48

منذ عام 1977 ونستله تتعرض لمقاطعة عالمية بسبب ترويجها المضلِّل لحليب الأطفال الاصطناعي بديلاً من حليب الأم

كما تعرضت لانتقاد عالمي لسبب استخدامها موادّ معدّلة جينياً

عُرضةٌ أيضاً للهجوم لسبب سماحها لتجار الكاكاو والذين تتعامل معهم في افريقيا باستعباد الأطفال.

عام 2000 قدمت نستله 20 مليون دولار لصندوق تعويضات ضحايا الهولوكوست (المحارق النازية) والسبب أن نستله ”بوصفها خلفاً شرعياً للشركات (النازية) تقبل مسؤوليتها الأخلاقية عن المساعدة في التخفيف من المعاناة البشرية، ولا سيّما لأن هذا الظلم جرى في أراضي الشركة“

نطالبها بانهاء دعمها الاقتصادي والمعنوي للنظام الاسرائيلي العنصري. على نستله أن تغلق مصانعها الاسرائيلية وأن تبيع حصتها في شركة ”أوسم“.

إذا علمت نستله أنها لن تستطيع في سيديروت (النجد) وفي كريات غات (الفالوجة وعراق المنشية) وفي ناخشوليم (الطنطورة) أن تنتج ما يكفي للتعويض عن خسائرها في العالم العربي والعالم أجمع بسبب المقاطعة، فلن يكون أمامها إلاّ سحب استثماراتها من اسرائيل.

لنتذكَّر أن مشاريع نستله الكبرى بدأت بعد ذوبان المقاطعة العربية لاسرائيل عام 1993. 
فلتعلم هذه الشركة أنّ اعتراضنا على اسرائيل لم يخفّ بعد ”عملية السلام“، بل على العكس زاد.

، فضلاً عن منظمة UNISON كما أنّ أكبر اتحاد في بريطانيا، وهو 
، وهي منظمة مسيحية ناشطة كبرى، قد قررا CHRISTIAN AID 
مقاطعة نستله إضافة إلى مقاطعتها لكلّ البضائع الاسرائيلية

on prisoners and martyrs

view of the jaber family's home on malwiya street
view of the jaber family's home on malwiya street

yesterday was palestinian prisoners day, but it did not feel like it. or did it? under normal circumstances i would have gone to one of the demonstrations. instead, i spent the afternoon with the jaber and karaki families in their house in the sa’adiyya neighborhood of the old city. there were many people in the room from the neighborhood and from the family who had recently been released from prison, though. 7 of them had been in prison for protecting the home from the israeli terrorists who have now successfully occupied one room in the house along with their m16s. and so the house itself feels like a prison. i can imagine if i were in this family feeling like i couldn’t leave–even to go to the market–so as to make sure more colonists don’t invade and steal more rooms of the house. one of the men who had been in jail had his hand broken by israeli terrorists. while in jail they beat his hand some more.

malwiyeh street with israeli terrorist colonists occupying a palestinian home
malwiyeh street with israeli terrorist colonists occupying a palestinian home

the settler colonists who have stolen a room in the jaber family house is an racist organization called ataret cohanim that has been stealing land in al quds since 1978 and now illegally occupies over 70 palestinian homes in the muslim quarter of the old city. this group is famous for forging papers alleging that they bought property from palestinian families as a pretext to steal houses. some of the houses have also been stolen because of pressure put on palestinians to collaborate with israeli terrorists, though oftentimes these dealings are also illegal because they are done under false pretenses.

jaber family in front of room in their house occupied by israeli terrorists
jaber family in front of room in their house occupied by israeli terrorists

ben white wrote an article for electronic intifada a couple of years ago entitled “bureaucratic dispossession” in which he explains the illegal practices of ataret cohanim:

On 20 August 2007, a story appeared in the Israeli daily Haaretz about the disputed ownership of a piece of land in East Jerusalem. The “land in question,” the report said, is “an olive grove called Kerem Hamufti” and part of the “Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.” According to Haaretz, the “Israel Lands Administration (ILA) is working together with the Ateret Cohanim association to wrest from Palestinian landowners control of 30 dunams (7.5 acres) of land in East Jerusalem and to transfer it to the association without a tender.” Petitioning the High Court, the land’s owners, the Palestinian Arab Hotels Company, described the purpose of this expropriation as “extraneous, illegitimate, racist and discriminatory.”

But who are these groups responsible for the attempted robbery, the ILA and Ateret Cohanim? The latter, is a religious, ultra-nationalist organization, whose main objective is “Judaizing” Jerusalem. Coincidentally, they had in fact already hit the headlines earlier in the month, when one of their private security guards shot dead a Palestinian who, it was claimed, attacked two guards in the Old City before being overpowered and killed. The juxtaposition of these two stories is striking. Unintentionally or otherwise, the alleged shooter, Ahmad Khatib, struck out at a para-state organization whose symbiotic relationship with the powerful colonizing state embodies the agent of his people’s Catastrophe.

Ateret Cohanim are represented in the US by the Jerusalem Reclamation Project (JRP), who sponsored a dinner in May celebrating the 40th anniversary of “the reunification of Jerusalem.” The work of the JRP includes “purchasing and renovating buildings for young yeshiva families, renovating destroyed synagogues, and by supporting nurseries, playgrounds, and children’s recreational facilities.” All of which would be great, if it wasn’t for the fact that East Jerusalem is both illegally annexed, and, more pertinently, already populated with Palestinians — a classic example of how Zionism attempts to render invisible the indigenous population of Palestine.

Allegations of illegal construction work and forgery against Ateret Cohanim had been previously documented by Haaretz, and in their editorial on the Sheikh Jarrah affair, the paper likewise sharply criticized the “underhand manner” in which a government body like the ILA had sought to take over Arab property in cooperation with a “national-religious” NGO. As well as noting that “governmental bodies such as the National Housing Company of Israel (Amidar), the Custodian of Absentee Property, the ILA, certain ministries and the Jewish National Fund have issued funds” to ultra-nationalist groups, the editorial bemoaned how “the practice of placing the settlers above the law … has reached East Jerusalem.”

thus this is one of the many ways israeli terrorist colonists create facts on the ground and try to legitimate their theft of land. like all criminals, they used various devious and illegal methods for securing what does not belong to them. this is how two other homes on the jaber family’s street were confiscated by israeli colonists as well and why the battle over the jaber family house is so crucial. they also pray on the system of palestinian collaborators as part of the system of colonial divide and rule here. as my dear friend said to me the other day, “it is easy to rebuild a home. we need to rebuild the people who are deeply damaged. this task is far more difficult than rebuilding a home.”

clayton swisher did a story on al jazeera yesterday that shows the same group–though he doesn’t name them–occupying a palestinian home in nearby sheikh jarrah and forcing a new family out of their home:

but the occupation of these homes in the old city is also what makes it feel like a prison. this coupled with the fact that everywhere you go you see israeli terrorists in uniform as in the photograph below.

israeli terrorists occupying the old city of al quds
israeli terrorists occupying the old city of al quds

of course these israeli terrorists in uniform are those who make sure that their prisons are heavily populated with palestinian prisoners to help with their colonial project. while palestinians are in prison they cannot have babies so it is a mechanism of controlling demography. and while palestinians are in prison their homes can more easily be demolished and land confiscated. ma’an news reported on prisoner’s day events:

“This year’s Prisoners Day comes at a tense time,” organizing official Amin Shoman said. “Following the Israeli war on Gaza the Israeli prison service has cracked down on prisoners in Israel; cutting off television access, the number of books prisoners are allowed to have and the duration of family visits,” he explained. “Prisoners are no longer allowed to receive fresh clothing from their families, and are prohibited from shaking hands with their fathers.”

Secretary General of the committee Hilmi Al-Araj sent a message to prisoners Thursday morning, saying, ”we promise our detainees that their cases will be solved when the Shalit issue is solved; we will make all efforts to free the 11,000 imprisoned at Israeli jails and we call the international community to seriously deal with this case.”

Minister of Prisoners and Ex-Prisoners Affairs in the Palestinian Legislative Council Ashraf Al-A`jrami said the day would be one to express solidarity with Palestinians in jail.

“Recognizing the detainees’ rights is part and parcel of recognizing the Palestinian people`s rights,” Al-A’jrami said in the lead-up to Prisoners Day events. He urged international institutions to recognize the illegal Israeli practices and put a halt to them.

of course i think it is necessary to support palestinian political prisoners–all 11,000+ of them including the 400 children–but i feel like this year the day was marred by a number of murders. i first learned about one of the murders while i was in my service at the qalandia checkpoint heading home friday night. the checkpoint was shut down and it was getting late and i knew that if there were any services left heading to nablus there would only be one more. eventually, the checkpoint opened, but it was shut because israeli terrorists had murdered a palestinian:

Palestinian teenager was killed and another was injured by Israeli fire near the Al-Jalazon Refugee Camp north of Ramallah Friday night after allegedly attempting to throw a Molotov cocktail at settler homes.

A youth identified as 16-year-old Muhammad Nuwwara received a fatal gunshot in the chest, and was evacuated to the governmental hospital in Ramallah. A second boy, 19-year-old Muhammad Balasha, was hit in his thigh and transferred to Sheikh Zayid Hospital in Ramallah. Both boys are from Al-Jalazon, a refugee camp just south of the illegal Israeli settlement of Beit El.

another palestinian was murdered in khalil by israeli terrorists:

An armed Palestinian was shot dead after entering an illegal Israeli settlement in the West Bank Friday morning, according to Israeli news reports.

Residents of the Hebron-area settlement of Haggay reported that they were patrolling the area when they saw a Palestinian walking around the Israeli-military secured area. Two settlers approached the man and reportedly struggled with him, at which point he pulled out a knife, according to one account.

Both men then tried to shoot the Palestinian, who was identified as 17-year-old Rabah Hejazi Seder, they reportedly said.

However, local sources told Ma’an they doubted that the teenager had attempted to access the settlement, due to its high level of protection and number of guards. They suggested that the Israelis killed the man outside the settlement and then took him inside.

but the murder of basem abu rahme from bil’in is one that received quite a bit more coverage. he was protesting the theft of his land when israeli terrorists fired at him as nour odeh reported on al jazeera in the context of george mitchell’s arrival in the west bank:

the video from the international solidarity movement (ism) shows far better coverage of basem’s murder, however, because it gives you some context and shows you bassam protesting prior to his death:

and here is clayton swisher reporting on basem’s funeral today:

and while palestinians mourn the loss of these new martyrs, lauren taylor on al jazeera’s “focus on gaza” this week highlighted the murder of mohammed al durra who was martyred when he was 11 years old in the year 2000 at the beginning of the second intifada. his family, who live in the gaza strip, managed to survive the recent savagery on gaza, but just barely:

all of this left me feeling overwhelmed the fast couple of days. it is so difficult to take all these stories in every day. and it is particularly difficult to feel like there is nothing you can do to stop it–to stop the imprisonment, murder, land and house theft. and the united states and its israeli terrorist ally want to keep it that way.

um jihad

Her name was Um Jihad. She was one of the first people we met from Nahr el Bared refugee camp who had sought refuge for herself and her family in Shatila refugee camp in Beirut. She is the woman sitting down in the photograph above. Everyone fleeing the Lebanese army’s war on the camp had a story, had a particular situation that complicated their flight and their refuge. But Um Jihad, perhaps more than anyone, captured the hearts of many people involved in the crisis. What made her story different, perhaps, is that she had breast cancer and was in the midst of chemotherapy treatment. Baha’a was particularly moved by her situation–as was Sari, Razan, Tamara, and Nadine–but Baha’a made it his mission to ensure that she continue her medical treatment. Because no one working with us were trained medical professionals, the Nahr el Bared Relief Campaign could not administer medical care and consequently the group stopped funding medical aid about a month or so into the crisis. But Baha’a decided that he would help fund Um Jihad’s treatment. Not only did he pay for her treatment out of his own pocket, but he took her to the hospital each week while she received her chemotherapy.

I was not fortunate enough to get to know Um Jihad. I met her several times. Most recently I went to her new “house” in the new camp section of Nahr el Bared refugee camp. Um Jihad and her family were given one of UNRWA’s new houses that they built for a few families who were allowed to return to their camp–albeit one that is surrounded by Lebanese army and intelligence operatives. The second picture–the one just above–is of Um Jihad’s new house that I visited last January and the one below is of the complex itself. It was a freezing cold day and there was barely electricity, let alone any heat. The conditions were unbearable to say the least.

Um Jihad’s new residence reminded me of what Palestinian refugees’ houses looked like as people shifted from tents to more sustainable structures. A photograph of a Palestinian family in Ein el Helweh refugee camp in Saida, Lebanon (see below) looks strikingly similar to where Um Jihad had moved. She continued with her cancer treatment and was looking forward to planning a menu for her family’s Eid al Fitr holiday this week. Sadly, this will not be as she died this week. She died not on the soil of Palestine where she belongs and had a legal right to return to and where she should be buried; rather, she died in the camp.

I wish I had known Um Jihad and her family better. It was hard for me to hear her story, though, as it often is with women who have breast cancer. Um Jihad actually died of renal failure, a complication that can be created by taking chemotherapy. My own mom did not die of breast cancer, but of internal bleeding in her stomach and a heart attack, both of which were due to excessive and extensive doses of chemotherapy. In the United States every October one sees pink ribbons commemorating Breast Cancer Awareness month. I’m sad to say that this has started to pop up in places like Lebanon as well. There are many problems with this pink ribbon campaign, which only Breast Cancer Action continues to challenge in their “Think Before you Pink” campaign. For instance,

Many companies that raise funds for breast cancer also make products that are linked to the disease. BCA calls these companies “pinkwashers.” BMW, for example, gives $1 to Susan G. Komen for the Cure each time you test-drive one of their cars, even though pollutants found in car exhaust are linked to breast cancer. Many cosmetics companies whose products contain chemicals linked to breast cancer also sell their items for the cause. Pinkwashers would make a much more valuable contribution to women’s lives if they made safer products, instead of wrapping themselves in the pink ribbon.

The same is true for the creators of, and for a long time producers of, chemotherapy. Pharmaceutical companies in the U.S. would create cancer by polluting the environment and then later sell the same people the drugs to treat their disease. Rachel Carson warned us about this decades ago. The most recent problem with this is related to the dairy industry:

Yoplait’s Save Lids to Save Lives campaign encourages consumers to buy pink-lidded cups of Yoplait yogurt and then mail the lid back to the company to prompt a donation to the cause. Yoplait’s products, however, are made from cows treated with the genetically engineered hormone, recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH). rBGH, also known as rBST, is injected into cows so they will produce more milk. Research suggests a number of health concerns, including breast cancer, are associated with the consumption of dairy products from cows treated with rBGH.

The way these corporations profit off of their faux do-gooder marketing is deceptive, and oftentimes destructive as with Yoplait. Other times it just offensive. Barbara Ehrenreich’s article of a few years ago tracks these corporations and their attempt at gaining the attention of a captive audience:

More so than in the case of any other disease, breast-cancer organizations and events feed on a generous flow of corporate support. Nancy Brinker relates how her early attempts to attract corporate interest in promoting breast cancer “awareness” were met with rebuff. A bra manufacturer, importuned to affix a mammogram-reminder tag to his product, more or less wrinkled his nose. Now breast cancer has blossomed from wallflower to the most popular girl at the corporate charity prom. While AIDS goes begging and low-rent diseases like tuberculosis have no friends at all, breast cancer has been able to count on Revlon, Avon, Ford, Tiffany, Pier 1, Estée Lauder, Ralph Lauren, Lee Jeans, Saks Fifth Avenue, JC Penney, Boston Market, Wilson athletic gear—and I apologize to those I’ve omitted. You can “shop for the cure” during the week when Saks donates 2 percent of sales to a breast cancer fund; “wear denim for the cure” during Lee National Denim Day, when for a $5 donation you get to wear blue jeans to work. You can even “invest for the cure,” in the Kinetics Assets Management’s new no-load Medical Fund, which specializes entirely in businesses involved in cancer research.

Many of the companies listed above in this clip from Ehrenreich’s article, most notably Estée Lauder, are also tremendous supporters of the state of Israel so they should be boycotted not only for trying to capitalize from a disease, while masking that they are supporting women with that disease, but also for their funding the Zionist state. Ron Lauder, who is the CEO of Estée Lauder, is also the Chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and President of the Jewish National Fund (JNF). The JNF is a quasi-government agency whose main function is to legitimize Israeli’s theft of Palestinian land. So follow this trail: an American woman “innocently” buys some Estée Lauder make up. She thinks she is also supporting breast cancer because she is told that the profits from her sale (perhaps 2%) will be donated to the Breast Cancer Fund (Lauder’s own charity, which has always made it impossible to collect data on so it is difficult to know what if anything they do to help women with breast cancer). In reality, the profits from that money have a far great chance of being donated to the JNF which continues to steal Palestinian land in 1948 historical Palestine as well as in the Occupied West Bank. The JNF, in fact, is one of the main organizations that has not only stolen Palestinian land, but ensured that this land–like the land belonging to Um Jihad and her family–remains in control of the state and not of individual people living in the Zionist state.

Meanwhile UNRWA is running out of funds to build homes or support Palestinian families in Nahr el Bared and elsewhere:

Speaking to ambassadors from donor countries at the launch of the appeal, UNRWA’s deputy commissioner-general, Filippo Grandi, warned: “The situation for displaced families remains extremely fragile. The activities covered by this appeal are vital, and the funds that are needed to carry them out are urgently needed.”

Unless more funding can be secured, the agency will run out of money at the end of October and will be forced to cease aid to the displaced families. UNRWA currently provides a range of essential services, paying rent for temporary accommodation and delivering food kits to needy families.

Meanwhile, the Italian government just announced that it would come to the aid of the Lebanese government to help the people in Nahr el Bared rebuild their camp (Isn’t Italy in a recession now?):

The Italian ambassador and the Council for Development and Reconstruction (CDR) signed a 5 million-euro ($7.2 million) cooperation agreement on Tuesday for the recovery and reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp and conflict affected areas in North Lebanon….

It added that Italy’s 5 million euro commitment will be disbursed as direct budget support to the Lebanese government for the recovery and reconstruction of the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp and conflict-ridden areas of North Lebanon.

The statement said that the agreement was an additional sign of “Italy’s commitment to improving living conditions in Palestinian refugee camps and surrounding areas – a commitment which has continuously increased since the 2006 conflict, reaching an overall figure of 13 million euros.”

It’s hard to know where this money will go and if it will ever reach those who need it most. Will it help breast cancer patients with treatment? Build new homes for Palestinian refugees in the camp? Meanwhile Lebanon’s new President Michel Suleiman–let us not forget in his former role as the head of the Lebanese Army he was responsible for the death and destruction of the people and homes in Nahr el Bared–told President George Bush that Palestinian refugees have a right to return to Palestine:

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman on Thursday emphasized his country’s claim to territory held by Israel and told U.S. President George W. Bush the future of Palestinian refugees was in their homeland, not Lebanon.

Suleiman, the former army chief elected president in May, thanked Bush during an Oval Office visit for supporting Lebanon’s military institutions and said the country, which has been plagued by bombings and assassinations, was working “very hard to combat terror.”

“We are also here to reaffirm the need to liberate all Lebanese territories and also to make it very clear that the future of Palestinian refugees is in their homeland, not in Lebanon,” Suleiman told Bush through a translator.

“We believe that this is in the interest of Lebanon as well as in the interest of the Palestinian people themselves,” he said.

While I agree fully with Suleiman that Palestinian refugees have a right to return to their land, I think we must also be conscious of the ways in which Lebanese leaders’ racism directed towards Palestinians (and often towards Syrians) should not be the vehicle through which we promote the right of return. But, in the end, it is the right of return that Um Jihad’s story should remind us of. Her memory, and the memory of so many others who have died without ever returning, who have been buried outside their land, should spur us on to fight for the inalienable right.